Westworld

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Westworld TV Poster Image
Thoughtfully creepy sci-fi has lots of sex and violence.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Thoughtful things are said about humanity's foibles through the course of the show; however, female characters are treated in sexist ways.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters such as Dolores and Teddy seem to be honest and have good intentions; evil is not glamorized, though violence appears to be in "all for fun" Western shootouts (ultimately subverted when we see that the victims of the violence aren't human). 

Violence

Graphic violence: shootings, stabbings, a throat slit, torture. Usually violence involves robots, but since they bleed and seem to be in pain and look just like "real" humans, this distinction is mostly unimportant. A robot's face is blown off by gunshot in one gory scene; characters are shot point-blank and scream and groan piteously while "dying." An implied rape takes place offscreen after a robot is dragged shrieking by the hair; a prostitute has sex in a scene where it's unclear if she's consented. Robots are "operated on" in gory scenes that may frighten sensitive viewers. 

Sex

A prostitute has sex in a scene in which it's unclear if she's consented. Both male and female robots are shown nude from the rear and front, with breasts and genitals visible. An orgy is depicted.

Language

Infrequent cursing, but what's said often comes in moments of violence and fear: "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "hell." A female robot is called a "little bitch." 

Consumerism

Anti-consumerist messages: Unappealing tourists boast about how much they spent before taking pleasure in dominating robots.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink brown liquor and smoke in frequent saloon scenes. Characters on a work break smoke cigarettes together. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Westworld is a grim sci-fi drama that revolves around a theme park staffed with realistically human robots. Most guests are primarily interested in killing or having sex with these robots, both of which are encouraged by the park. Violence is often present in gory scenes in which robots are stabbed, shot point-blank, have their faces shot off in a blast of blood, have their throats slit, and so on. Other disturbing scenes involve an implied offscreen rape that a female robot is dragged to by her hair, screaming, and a sex scene with a prostitute (no private parts are seen). Female and male robots are shown fully nude; backsides and breasts are shown at length. Cursing is infrequent but unbleeped and includes "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "ass," and "damn." A female robot is called a "little bitch." Characters drink liquor and smoke at a saloon.

User Reviews

Adult Written byKristi A. July 28, 2017

How people can stomach this and say it is ethical is beyond me

We really need to stop supporting such strong depictions of sex and nudity in the media. HBO is a soft-porn network it seems. Watching this stuff is not healthy... Continue reading
Parent Written byRay G. December 8, 2016

Great Show

This is a very exciting and interesting show. However it is meant for only older children and adults.
Teen, 16 years old Written bytenacity October 24, 2016

Mature and thought-provoking.

HBO has created another great show. The production value is astonishing, the cast is stellar, the concepts are inventive and troubling. While this definitely is... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bykushs April 10, 2017

Gore, sex, and the evolution of sin in HBO's latest hit

HBO has done it again, creating captivating television with no boundaries. However, even though this show has a NR rating, it is not for younger and more sensit... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the 1973 sci-fi/western by Michael Chrichton, WESTWORLD is set in a futuristic Old West-themed park, where guests spend a week or two riding horses, robbing banks, playing cards at saloons -- and pushing around realistically humanoid robots, who can be killed, raped, or injured with impunity. The robots are called "Hosts," the guests "Newcomers," and the guests visit the park for as long as they can afford. However, some robots are glitching, stepping out of their roles, and even trying to hurt Newcomers, including longtime guest The Man in Black. The park's staff is trying desperately to keep all the problems undercover. But with the Hosts becoming more and more aware of just how they're trapped, that's getting more difficult all the time. Meanwhile, some guests are looking for a deeper meaning beneath the park's simple narrative. 

Is it any good?

Thoughtful, twisty, and disturbing, this grim series digs into just what it means to be human and presents viewers with more questions than answers. The 1973 movie was creepy and effective but a lark -- this is darker and even more troubling. The villains aren't as easy to spot in this new version. Ed Harris' Man in Black is the most obvious one, a guest taking vile jollies in his freedom to mess with Hosts like Evan Rachel Wood's doe-eyed Southern belle Dolores and James Marsden's square-jawed gunslinger Teddy.

As we watch the sympathetic Hosts take physical and emotional abuse from both Newcomers and the scientists who created them, it becomes clear that no one's a hero here -- not the thoughtless humans, not the helpless robots, and most definitely not the cynical people who write the park's scripts and steer the Host/Newcomer interactions. Are the makers of Westworld actually asking us to sympathize with robots rising up against humans? They sure are -- and they're doing a bang-up job of it, too. This is the best kind of sci-fi: It entertains you and makes you think. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fear of technology gone wrong in Westworld. Do you think robots will ever become this advanced? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing?

  • Westworld depicts humans who are allowed to hurt and even kill robots with no consequences. Is this less disturbing than killing a person? Why do you think the decision was made to have the robots bleed, experience wounds, and groan in pain? Why is it OK to see some types of violence but not others

  • Have you seen the 1973 movie on which this series is based? How is this version different? Why would the creators choose to leave out certain aspects of the first movie while inserting new characters and action? 

TV details

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