A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are few and far between, but there's a villain who rants about female "purity" who's clearly painted as being unbalanced. Parents are motivated by love for their children (although they do nefarious things in the name of this love).
Positive Role Models
Most characters are duplicitous and flawed and make decisions that are tough to empathize with. Perhaps the most "innocent" characters are the youngest, Ellie and Carter, innocent victims of circumstance, though we don't get to know them well.
Main characters are White, but there are several characters of color, including security expert Dakota and private detective Theodora. Dakota's race complicates his relationship with Ellie (dad Dean disapproves), but there's no outright discussion of race or ethnicity.
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Violence & Scariness
Haunted house story vibes. Expect sudden and violent deaths (including murder and suicide), blood, dead bodies, frequent jump scares. A small animal (a ferret) is killed off-screen; we see the body in a pool of blood. A supernatural group is behind some of the otherworldly happenings; we see them in long robes in a circle with something bloody on an altar. A woman dies by suicide; we see her body hanging from the ceiling briefly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters have sex with suggestive noises and movements. Talk can be frank: orgasms, erectile dysfunction ("junk"), infidelity. A 15-year-old girl begins dating a 19-year-old boy; they kiss secretly and she calls herself "jailbait" and him a "creeper."
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Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y" (meaning "coward").
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Products & Purchases
Financial strain is one of the threads of this narrative; people talk about what they can and can't afford, and about their possessions sending a message of their financial status.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink at dinners and gatherings. Big glasses of white wine at dinner and other times, including during the day.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Watcher is loosely based on a true crime story about a family that received threatening letters, but it departs from the real-life story by bringing in supernatural themes and happenings. Expect intense imagery such as a dead pet (a ferret) in a pool of blood, the sight of a woman hanging from the ceiling after a suicide, bloody dead bodies after a murder-suicide, and more. Characters we've gotten to know die suddenly, and other characters are in mortal danger. Themes of voyeurism, jealousy, snobbery, and the dangers of presenting a false image are clear; male characters are preoccupied by female "purity" and controlling signs of sexuality. Characters drink frequently, including big glasses of wine at dinner; they also drink alone during the day. Sexual scenes include one with a married couple having sex with moaning and noises, and teens kissing. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," and "p---y."
Is It Any Good?
By now, viewers know to expect wild plot twists from Ryan Murphy, though this series' true crime connection anchors them in the non-supernatural realm: real-people villains instead of ghosts. But lest you be mistaken that The Watcher is some kind of sober exercise in historical truth-telling, let's examine the characters who might be responsible for the Brannocks' creepy correspondence: The angry older neighbors who dress in matching workout suits and sit outside in lawn chairs watching the Brannocks through binoculars? The elderly historical society doyenne with the intellectually challenged brother who's obsessed with the Brannocks' house? The overly friendly realtor who finds one excuse after another to stop by and ask intrusive questions?
It's a lot of surprising extra for a story based on a real one, and though it's fun, it also verges on campy. Some viewers will probably find it ridiculous, others will be delighted with the kitschy brain candy, the visuals of the Brannock family always clad in shades of beige and oatmeal, and the fantastic cast with its embarrassment of riches. Jennifer Coolidge, reliably great, is surprisingly effective in a role far from her usual comic ones, and horror icon Mia Farrow is wonderful too in her smaller role as an alarming neighbor who cares more about the house's dumbwaiter and ancient oak trees than its inhabitants.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.