A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are few and far between in this soapy drama, with themes of past mistakes coming back to haunt characters, and revenge that turns on the vengeful.
Positive Role Models
Women and people of color have strong, central roles, but many characters are duplicitous, with hidden motivations and a "the ends justify the means" moral compass.
Violence & Scariness
Deaths take place onscreen with blood but no gore; dead bodies are shown briefly. Deaths may be sudden and shocking, and involve characters we've gotten to know (if not to love). Some violence has a sexual element, like when a man kidnaps a woman (and then gets into a mortal battle with her husband). One character has first-responder type jobs; we see injured people like a young boy with a burned face. Characters have secret pasts, some of which involve murder.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual content is frequent and plotlines revolve around infidelity and sex. We see characters kissing in bed and moving rhythmically; we see a man nude from the side (no private parts are visible), and then the camera cuts to them looking satisfied in bed while covered by sheets. Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing and references to sex.
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Cursing and language includes "f--k," "hell," "bitch," "balls" (meaning courage).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine and cocktails at parties and gatherings; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What/If is a sudsy drama about a woman who accepts a morally shaky financial deal and soon regrets her decision as she's drawn into a web of consequences. While it mirrors the standard evening soaps with its twists and reveals often revolving around sex and violence, visual content is rather mild. Deaths take place suddenly and sometimes involve characters we've gotten to know, but there's no gore and little blood and most violence takes place off-screen. Sex is also rather subtle, with same- and opposite-sex characters shown kissing and taking off clothing, then moving rhythmically together under the covers; no nudity or private parts are shown. Some violence has a sexual element, like a near-rape that catalyzes an act of violence, and a domestic violence incident that involves a kidnapping. Cursing is infrequent, but expect to hear "f--k," "hell," "bitch," and "balls." Adults drink cocktails and wine at gatherings, but no one acts drunk. Women and people of color have strong, central roles, and a main character is a woman in her fifties.
Is It Any Good?
Pulpy, juicy, and filled with ridiculous yet dramatically satisfying twists, this drama is a delightful bingeable pleasure. The official Netflix trailer for this series begins with a flash of lightning over the Golden Gate Bridge and a rumble of thunder, so that should clue you in to exactly how subtle this show is. "True greatness only comes to those willing to pursue it at any cost," says Zellweger's Anna to herself at the top of the series, underlining "at any cost" twice on a scratch pad. We get it! You're ruthless! And so we're not surprised when the show seems to settle immediately into an Indecent Proposal groove.
But things are going to go in way, way weirder directions than you think. Meeting the pleasant cast in the first episode, you may think you're in for a slightly racier Grey's Anatomy with the f-word, but the plot rises to positively over-the-top levels in later episodes. Fans of creator Mike Kelley's earlier dramas -- the cult-fave Jericho and the similar-in-tone-and-execution Revenge -- are particularly urged to give What/If a try.
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.