A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's sympathies clearly lie with underdogs such as the Elves, who are fighting back against human genocide, and those who labor under social and/or political discrimination. Themes of teamwork, courage, and perseverance are demonstrated.
Positive Role Models
Many characters, including Geralt and Yennefer, focus their efforts on helping underdogs and protecting the weak. The cast has many strong female characters, and people of color in prominent supporting roles. In this world, Witchers are a despised minority ("We don't want your kind around here, you mutant son of a bitch" one villager says to Geralt), and Elves are a struggling race fighting against humankind just to exist. As in the game series, moral choices play a part in the action. As Geralt says when asked to do something morally questionable, "Evil is evil, lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same."
Violence & Scariness
Violence is of the fantasy variety: CGI monsters, swords, battles. Geralt always triumphs in monster battles but the monster deaths can be harrowing, with dark blood, otherworldly screams, hacked off limbs, and the like. Battles are often sickeningly gory, with decapitations, eviscerations, slit throats, gouting blood and gore. A man has his head split by an axe; a main character is dispatched with an arrow in the eye. Several characters commit suicide, which the series seems to view as honorable and necessary (they were going to be killed/captured by soliders). A song mentions a potion that causes an abortion. Several female characters talk about being sexually assaulted and raped, but we don't see their attacks. A deer is seen with a bloody wound and then we hear the sound of a slashing sword.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many characters have sexual tension between them; we see kisses as well as sexual relationships that include nudity. Breasts and buttocks are visible as a wizard creates an illusion of a sunny garden with strolling nude women. An orgy occurs at a party.
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Cursing is often a part of trash talk, with Geralt called a "mutant son of a bitch" and a "filthy degenerate born of hell." Expect also to hear "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," "damn," "hell."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Potions are a part of the narrative, with characters taking elixirs from bottles to perform magical functions, or to commit suicide. Adult characters drink beer in taverns; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Witcher is a series based on the book series and popular video games of the same name. As in the game, the action is set in a magical world in which "mutant" characters called Witchers are able to slay monsters. The monster battles are righteously scary, with giant creatures equipped with scary faces, claws, unearthly long arms, and the like; when main Witcher Geralt (Man of Steel's Henry Cavill) fights them, there's dark blood, scary music, hacked off limbs, and visuals of the dead bodies of monsters. There's even more gore in the human battles, with soldiers fighting on the battleground and grievous injuries: stabbings, slashings, decapitations, throats are slit, a man's head is halved with an axe with bright-red spouting blood and gore. Sexual violence is referred to, but not seen on-screen. Some characters have otherworldly powers and can cause magical destruction, but the show's sympathies clearly lie with characters who are downtrodden and despised such as Witchers and Elves. Romance plays a part in some storylines and sexual images are frequent: characters have sex that includes nudity, come upon an orgy at a party, and non-sexual nudity (breasts and buttocks) occurs in a magical illusion. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "hell." Characters drink beer in bars but don't get drunk; potions play a part in the story, used for suicide and abortion, among other purposes. Female characters have strong roles and some members of the cast are people of color; themes of courage, teamwork, and perseverance are illustrated in magical quests aimed at righting wrongs.
Is It Any Good?
With its medieval magical vibe and complex fantastical storytelling, this arresting drama reads like a Game of Thrones knockoff, but darned if it doesn't actually cast a spell. In a genre that often comes off as thunderingly self-important (is there a weapon or person or geographic location without a vainglorious three-word name in the Lord of the Rings trilogy?), The Witcher's greatest bit of daring is to treat its epic storytelling with a big dash of irony. The puffery-puncturing vibe arrives early, as Henry Cavill's square-jawed smirks make it clear that both actor and character recognize and relish the ridiculousness of monsters and long velvet cloaks and lone swordsmen doomed to roam from town to town on grim missions. But things really kick into gear in the second episode, when Joey Batey shows up as the ebullient bard Jaskier, more or less the comic-relief Donkey to Geralt's Shrek.
What a wonderful character Jaskier is: swishy, mouthy, and relentlessly roughhousing, he joyfully undercuts the solemnity of The Witcher's battles and political drama, often by economically summing up what's taken place in dialogue or song. In an early scene, just after delivering a bit of grievous Elf history, he says "There I go again, just delivering exposition." Ha! It's funny because it's true. Speaking of said Elves, their part of the story gives welcome depth: humans pushed them off their ancestral lands and now they fight relentlessly to keep the tattered remnants of their once-mighty tribe together -- and if that puts viewers in mind of Native people in North America, well, that's no doubt part of the message in a drama which is both entertainingly easy to watch and satisfyingly aligned with the underdogs of its world.
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.