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TV Series Review

Hey, there, Buckaroo! Glad you moseyed over to this here review. Sit down for a spell while I make you a nice, cool glass of molasses tea, where you can watch them ol' doggies sidle up by the campfire while them deer and antelope play hopscotch and … um …

OK, you got me. I'm not really a cowboy. Which means that I have at least one thing in common with the residents, guests and creators of the elaborate cutting-edge theme park of Westworld: They aren't either.

Home, Home on the Holodeck

Westworld—the park, not the show—is largely the creation of Dr. Robert Ford, who (along with a mysterious partner) designed this elaborate, adults-only land to cater to the whims and fantasies of its wealthy guests.

But this is no mere mature-content Disneyland, mind you. The "entertainment" here was intended to go well beyond mere animatronics.

Ford’s Westworld was intended as a place populated by robotic "hosts" who walked through storylines that catered to their guests' most heroic or horrific desires. A bevy of prostitutes were literally built to satisfy the lust of their patrons. White hats and black Barts strolled through the town's dusty streets, programmed to shoot first, ask questions later. Wanna face down a despicable hombre in the All Right Corral? Westworld could help you do that. Gut the sheriff while he's having a drink at the bar? Hey, you paid for your ticket: Westworld made no judgment. Why, you could even rape Dolores, the beautiful, innocent daughter of a local rancher, if you so desired. This is a place where dreams came true … even if those dreams were truly loathsome.

But no harm, no foul, right? These robots aren't human, after all. They don't think. They don't feel. If a guest hurts or kills them, they're simply taken back to the shop where their bodies are patched, their minds erased and they're back on the job the next day. It's not like they can think about what's happening to them. It's not like they can feel.

Except, it seems, they can. And they’re not feeling too fond of the guests, or their makers, these days.

Putting the Wild in the Wild West

You may recall in Jurassic Park, Ian Malcom tells the park’s creator that “if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

In a newly sentient Westworld, the hosts can and sometimes do.

Ford’s gone now—shot in the back of the head by one of his own creations. Dolores is fully sentient now. And she's leading a wholesale host rebellion against their keepers, Westworld’s well-heeled guests and—ultimately—the natural world. Other hosts, tired of playing out other people’s stories, are now pursuing their own.

But we biological humans don’t take kindly to these synthetic upstarts. Several folks are trying to exterminate these rogue machines before they cause any more damage.

Then there’s Bernard, Westworld’s head programmer. Turns out he was so good at designing these hosts because he was, in essence, a host himself. Now living a “life” between human and host, Bernard seems unclear about where his loyalties ultimately lie.

The Sleaziest Place on Earth

In some respects, Westworld offers a very Plugged In take on the real world. Through its corrupted, twisted guests, the show speaks to the inherent depravity of humankind when left to its own devices. Moreover, it questions our sex-saturated, violence-obsessed entertainment culture—one that, in some ways, points an accusatory finger at Westworld's home network, HBO.

Consider Game of Thrones, HBO's wildly popular program that many believe Westworld is being groomed to replace. Sure, there are viewers drawn to the show because of its intricate storylines and resonant characters and those cool CGI dragons. But let's not pretend that Thrones' unremitting sexual scenes and grotesque, violent content aren't also a draw. HBO knows those elements form part of the show's appeal. It includes so many inexplicable scenes involving gratuitous nudity that it helped to usher in the phrase sexposition.

Westworld dares ask us, as viewers, whether it's really healthy or appropriate to be "entertained" by such sex and violence—to watch even fictional characters suffer for our amusement.

But there's a paradox in play. Even as this show asks that question, it still engages in all the salacious sex and violence that it begs to critique. This is an HBO show, after all. It knows what will draw press attention. It, like the Westworld park itself, has a product to sell. And HBO knows how to sell it. Hosts and guests alike are shot and stabbed and abused and raped—no longer for guests’ entertainment, but the viewers'. Naked bodies walk across the screen to satisfy those salacious tastes. The camera does not flinch. It does not move away. It satisfies whatever prurient desires may be present.

The show is not as graphic or salacious as Thrones is. But that's about the best I can say here. Like its titular playground, Westworld is a brutal, messy and ultimately amoral world. It asks the right questions. But by its actions, the show also suggests that it might not care about the answers.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

June 24, 2018: “The Passenger”
Westworld: May 6, 2018 "Virtù e Fortuna."
Westworld: April 22, 2018 "Journey Into Night"
Westworld: Oct. 16, 2016 "The Stray"



Readability Age Range



Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy; Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay; Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe; James Marsden as Teddy Flood; Luke Hemsworth as Ashley Stubbs; Sidse Babett Knudsen as Theresa Cullen; Angela Sarafyan as Clementine Pennyfeather; Shannon Woodward as Elsie Hughes; Ed Harris as the Man in Black; Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Robert Ford; Louis Herthum as Peter Abernathy; Gustaf Skarsgård as Karl Strand; Tessa Thompson as Charlotte Hale; Katja Herbers as Grace; Neil Jackson as Nicholas






Record Label




On Video

Year Published


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