When Calls the Heart

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
When Calls the Heart TV Poster Image
Faith-based period drama has stellar female role models.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

It's set in the 19th century, and kids will see historical settings and get a feel for the time period.

Positive Messages

The story celebrates the power of the human spirit and faith's role in helping the characters overcome tragedy and secure a future in a harsh world. Recurring themes remind viewers of the importance of community, friendship, trust, and perseverance. The intrinsic value of compassion and humanity also are explored. Serious issues such as illness and death are visited with care.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong female role models embody strength of character and faith. The women of the town must take unexpected and challenging steps to protect themselves and their families after a tragedy, and the experience underscores their strong moral fiber. Although ill-meaning characters do exist in the stories, they're no match for the fortitude of the upstanding townsfolk. 

Violence & Scariness

Sometimes characters are shown with guns or other weapons, and they use them to intimidate or in self-defense, all of which is in line with the times. 

Sexy Stuff

A few romances blossom over the course of the show, but there's little shown beyond physical closeness and a kiss or two. In one scene, a woman talks about being propositioned by a man for something more, describing it as his wanting her to "be friendly" toward him. 

Language
Consumerism

The series is based on a book series and an earlier TV movie of the same name. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rarely, there's mention of someone's trouble with alcohol, but it's not shown. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that When Calls the Heart is a faith-based drama series inspired by the Hallmark TV movie of the same name. It follows an indomitable frontier woman who takes a teaching job in a Canadian coal-mining town recovering from tragedy. Her courage, kindness, and perseverance make her an excellent role model, and she's surrounded by other heroic female figures. Because it's set in the past, some of the characters' experiences may seem foreign to kids, but this also means it's a good opportunity for history-based learning. When the plot touches on serious issues such as sexuality, it does so in gentle and vague terms that will sail over young kids' heads (as when a woman speaks of a man wanting her to "be friendly" toward him). But the show takes great care in presenting other harsh realities of life, such as illness and death, for what they are, so be ready to reassure sensitive kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNtgilbert February 16, 2016

Excellence in TV

When Calls the Heart is by far the best family friendly program I have seen in over 20 years. The writing is so far above what has become the usual produced in... Continue reading
Adult Written byAngie761998 January 22, 2016

My favorite TV show by far.

I love this show because in addition to having a fantastic plot it is completely clean. Every other show today is full of inuendos, but when calls the heart sta... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bylivvyS March 14, 2016
This is a good show to watch with the family. Although some issues may be inappropriate, they will fly over children's heads because they are discussed so... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 23, 2016
This is my favorite show!! I like how it is historical but yet has a lot of suspense and good lessons. Lori, Erin and Daniel play the roles very well. It's... Continue reading

What's the story?

WHEN CALLS THE HEART is the story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a well-to-do member of an upper-crust Canadian family who leaves privilege behind for an uncertain future as a teacher in a western mining town called Coal Valley. The town's residents are recovering from a recent mine tragedy that killed many of the men and left families without husbands and fathers, threatening their very survival. Elizabeth finds fast friends in widows Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin) and Cat Montgomery (Chelah Horsdal), who resort to working the mines themselves to safeguard their families' futures. But her relationship with Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) is less idyllic, given that he suspects Elizabeth's father had a hand in his assignment to Coal Valley. As changes come to this small community, the townsfolk rely on their faith and their neighbors to carry them through the difficult times.

Is it any good?

This Hallmark series touches on some serious issues, which adds to its credibility as a historical drama, but it explores them with such care that their positive messages leap off the screen. Your kids may have questions about the characters' physical and emotional struggles -- particularly as they relate to the miners' recent deaths, which are referenced often -- but the show is a testament to human perseverance and faith in a higher power. 

Based on Janette Oke's book series, When Calls the Heart picks up Elizabeth's story where the previous movie left it, but it does so with an almost entirely different cast (only Loughlin reprises her movie role). Nonetheless, it's easy to make the jump if you've seen the movie, but the series' plot works fine as its own entity as well. This is a beautifully crafted period drama set against the lovely backdrop of western Canada, and it's rich in historically situated content; positive messages about faith, family, and courage; and strong female role models, with Elizabeth leading the charge.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the female roles in When Calls the Heart. What qualities about these women enable them to carry on after tragedy? How do they challenge the gender expectations of the time? To what degree is modern society still rooted in traditional gender roles? 

  • Kids: In what ways was life simpler during this story's time period? How did their problems compare to ours of today? How has technology changed how we communicate and spend our free time? What are the pros and cons of this evolution? 

  • The show's main characters demonstrate impressive emotional strength. What do you call on for inspiration when you face a tough challenge? Do you have a favorite saying or prayer that encourages you?  

  • How do the characters in When Calls the Heart demonstrate compassion and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love classics

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate