Sense and Sensibility (1981)

| 8+
Cautions: brief language, brief immodesty and mild sensuality, mild ethical confusion, and some emotional intensity

Sense and Sensibility, the 1981 three-hour BBC series, is far from splendorous by any definition, but while its artistic disadvantages are conspicuous, its commitment to the bigger points of the original novel and its understated drama may make this story of sisterly differences, affection and secrets of the heart an enjoyable diversion for forgiving viewers, and especially for the more romantically inclined.

1981 | Rodney Bennett | 174 min

Brief Language

What the devil

The word “b-tch” is used in a non-sensational way in reference to a dog. A negatively-portrayed character calls two innocent women “sl-ts”.

“Good heavens!” and variations are said throughout.

Brief Immodesty and Mild Sensuality

A man kisses a woman on the cheek.

A negatively-portrayed woman is seen wearing a very low neckline revealing quite a bit of cleavage. Other necklines are occasionally somewhat open, or low but covered with gauze.

References are made (some falsely) to illegitimacy in phrases like “natural daughter” and “love child”. The word “seduced” is used.

Mild Ethical Confusion

Positively-portrayed women struggle with continuing romantic affection for men who are promised or even married to others.

A character portrayed as wise said he had hoped that a young woman’s “goodness might reclaim” a villainous man.

Younger sister Marianne praises heroes of novels for being “ready to call upon the devil, if need be.” This is not explicitly resolved, but her general attitude changes significantly.

Some Emotional Intensity

A character becomes very ill and delirious, and is in danger of death. Other deaths are mentioned, including that of the main characters’ father.


Characters drink alcohol, though never to excess. A flamboyant woman asks for “plenty of brandy” in her drink.

The main characters’ mother is sometimes foolish and often does not know what is best.

Boarding school is briefly mentioned a couple of times.

An apparently heartless doctor brushes off concerned family with a “nothing but to await the dictates of Providence.”

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