A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vikings is a gritty historical drama that chronicles the rise of legendary Norse revolutionary and hero Ragnan Lothbrok from a common raider to eventual Viking king. The series is violent, often exceedingly so, with graphic battle scenes that show close-up fighting, stabbings, stonings, beatings, and even the occasional beheading. Other mature topics like rape emerge, and steamy love scenes keep nudity to a minimum (women cover their chests with blankets, men are shirtless), but play up sexy foreplay and explicit bedroom talk. But set against the backdrop of this brutal era is a dynamic story of a loving family man whose foresight and determination took him to unexplored lands and eventual fame and power.
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What's the story?
VIKINGS centers on Ragnan Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a farmer and hired raider under the direction of chieftain Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). While Haraldson is content sending his men to pillage the impoverished lands to the east of Norway, Ragnan is drawn to the unexplored western sea, guided by new directional tools and a strong sense of destiny. He enlists the help of his friend, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), to create a stronger, faster ship that can weather the unknown, and joins forces with his brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), for the dangerous journey, leaving his wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), at home with their children.
Is it any good?
From the writing genius of Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth) comes an inspired, artistic series based on real people and events that gives viewers a unique inside-out look at this mysterious clan of historical players often represented as ancient street thugs. Vikings tries to change that long-held impression, putting a surprisingly sympathetic spin on Ragnan and telling the tale from the point of view of this celebrated visionary, devoted father, and spiritual devotee who rose to power because of his impulse to push boundaries. Crafty cinematography drops viewers into a land of long ago, carrying them along for the dangerous but exhilarating ride alongside Ragnan, his family, and his men.
But for all of Vikings' historical value, the show is never lacking action, adventure, romance, intrigue, and suspense, making it an extraordinarily enjoyable watch. Don’t sweat it if your knowledge of Norse legends is limited to Thor; you'll find yourself quickly caught up in this real-life drama played out by the talented Fimmel and a sensational supporting cast. If your teens can stomach the raw violence and mature sexual content, this is a fantastic series that will introduce you to a whole new set of historical figures and may inspire some supplementary research into the legends that inspired the show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenges that accompany new adventures. How do you know when a risk is worth taking? What can be learned from failure? Is success any sweeter because of the risks taken?
How reliable are cultural legends and oral history? What role do they play in your beliefs about history or religion?
Is Ragnan a heroic character? Is he violent, or is that a product of his surroundings? How do we assign fame today? Are modern-day heroes any more or less deserving of their stations than someone like him?
Themes & Topics
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