A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Amid all the dark stuff are a few complex, subtle messages about loyalty and believing in the courage of one's convictions.
Positive Role Models
Many characters operate by emotion instead of logic; it's doubtful that they make good role models, but there is an "underdog against great odds" vibe that some viewers may take strength in. The cast is diverse in terms of age, race, and ethnicity, and women have strong, central roles.
Violence & Scariness
There are many deaths shown on-screen, including bloody/gory deaths: a series of characters is shot point-blank in the face; a group of teens is killed by having syringes of some type of toxin injected into their arms. A man is prevented from leaving a room by being impaled to a table top. We see dead bodies, gore, blood. There are many references to epidemics that may disturb viewers living through COVID-19.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters kiss and flirt; there are references to (off-screen) sex. A man has a woman he doesn't know in his hotel room and it's said they're going to "f--k." Female characters, particularly extras, are given revealing costumes.
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Language is frequent: "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bitches."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink cocktails, beer, and champagne at gatherings; some get drunk. A group of characters is poisoned and it's made to look as if they died using IV drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Utopia is a dark series about a mysterious comic book that's the subject of a deep state conspiracy, and the young comic fans who try to unravel it. Violence is intense and frequent: characters are killed suddenly, violently, and on-screen: shot point-blank in the head with blood and gore, stabbed with syringes in an incident staged to look like deaths due to IV drug use. Expect characters to die horribly in the course of the series. There are also references and visuals related to epidemics like Ebola and SARS, which may disturb viewers familiar with COVID-19. Sexual content is less frequent; characters have a sweet romance with kissing and references to off-screen sex; a man intends a one-night-stand with a woman and brings her to his hotel room (they do not wind up having sex). Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "assh--e," "bitches." Adults drink at gatherings and parties; some get drunk and get sloppy and sexually uninhibited. Positive messages are few and far between, but viewers may glean a few messages about loyalty to friends and staying true to principles. The cast is diverse in terms of age, race, and ethnicity, and women have strong, central roles.
Is It Any Good?
This show ultimately feels a lot like somebody who commandeers your attention at a party: eager to impart far-out stories, but less interested in making sure said stories land with its audience. A show full of kooky plot elements that are also emotionally involving sounds great, but Utopia stumbles on that front. By the end of the first episode, we've met dozens of characters, each of whom only gets a brief turn in the overcrowded pilot, and some of whom are abruptly dispatched. What is this story about and who's important to watch? With her everygirl vibe and a big juicy speech where she takes comic fanboys to task, Lily feels like creator Gillian Flynn's mouthpiece, but she feels insubstantial, tasked with doling out exposition but not a character we're eager to get to know.
Flynn's most interesting creation is Grant (Javon "Wanna" Walton), a middle schooler posing as a wealthy adult to his cadre of conspiracy theorist buddies who actually does wind up pulling off some very adult stunts. With his loopy line readings and unnerving stare, Christopher Denham (Billions) also breathes some life into his stock grim-hitman-on-a-mission role, and John Cusack, too, is a reliable kick. But the concepts and characters don't quite come together to create a show worth watching.
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.