A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There are messages about power, loyalty, committment, duty, and obligation running through this drama, as well as enviromental themes. All the magic and medieval-style trappings may distract from the messages somewhat, though.
Positive Role Models
Pike's Moiraine is the show's main character; she's strong, powerful, and can be merciless, such as when she dispatches powerless people as a means to an end. She can also be empathetic, and her overall goal is to protect as many as possible. Many characters make questionable choices, and have shifting loyalties.
The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, age, and body type. Women are in strong and central positions; they're tasked with wielding magic in this world. People of color are cast in major and minor roles, though race isn't mentioned in this fictional fantasy world.
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Violence & Scariness
Violence is frequent though it's of a fantasy variety: CGI monsters, swooping and charging creatures, swords, magical incantation that result in people falling over dead. Hand-to-hand combat is shown, and combatants are slashed and stabbed; scenes show blood oozing from a slashed neck. In other graphic scenes, a dog nibbles at a human's intenstines, and a woman is burned alive.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nudity is frequent, though it's often non-sexual: male and female bathers are nude at a bathing facility; religious rituals are performed in the nude. Expect talk of romance and sex, as well as on-screen kissing and romantic intrigue.
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Language includes "bastards," "ass," and "s--t," as well as words like "piss."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many scenes take place in bars with characters drinking brandy and other alcohol; some drink too much and laugh loudly and become sloppy and violent.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wheel of Time is a series based on a fantasy book series set in a world with sentient creatures and magic. Though there are deaths, they are often bloodless: a sorcerer does a spell or waves their fingers and someone falls down dead. However, in other scenes, we see graphic sights such as blood oozing from a slashed neck, a woman burned alive, and a dog eating a human's intestines. Several scenes depict non-sexual nudity: men and woman bathe at a group facility; breasts and buttocks are visible. Religious rituals are performed in the nude. Many scenes take place at bars, and characters drink too much and get sloppy and violent. Language includes "bastards," "ass," and "s--t," as well as words like "piss." A diverse cast features women and people of color at the center of the action; women are the magical "muscle" of the series. Messages about power, committment, and duty may be overshadowed by magic and action.
Is It Any Good?
It's clear from curtain rise on the first episode that this ambitious book-adapted fantasy epic is angling to be the heir to the Thrones (Game of Thrones, that is), but alas, it misses the mark. Nor does it hit the world-building heights of the Lord of the Rings franchise, though The Wheel of Time, a 14-volume series with each book hovering at the 1,000-page mark, surely must have given plenty of world to build onscreen. Instead, both characters and the world they inhabit feel generic; their arcs don't have the bite and intrigue we wish for. For one thing, some more thoughtful set-dressing would have helped. Everything's too clean: spotless clothes, pristine squire-like hobbit houses. People are supposed to live in those houses; people are filthy; why are they so clean if they're not supposed to be brand-new?
The lack of depth and thoughtfulness extends to characterization. Perhaps the coolest idea in The Wheel of Time is that this world's muscle is an all-female clan of spiritual warriors, Aes Sedai. It's Aes Sedai who set the series' plot in motion by seeking the one true hero (or villain), the Dragon. It's a simple setup, one that Game of Thrones managed to pull off so successfully by creating an alternate world where magic gave women equal or sometimes even more power than men. There's a early moment that may make viewers think the show may actually pull it off: Pike, an actor with nothing but gravitas, tersely gives us exposition in voiceover as her assistant (or Warder in the show's parlance) helps her dress. She twirls a cape with flash and strength, and it's thrilling. It's rare to see women depicted onscreen as powerful warriors in this way. Unfortunately, this thread of intrigue is abandoned to begin a ho-hum quest, with lots (and lots) of long shots of its cast on horseback. The Wheel of Time is as beautiful as a painting, and has plenty of source material to work on, but it feels like we're on a road to nowhere.
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.