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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that ER is an intense medical drama with graphic situations (lots of blood and surgeries) and mature storylines that isn't for young audiences. Death, disease, and physical injuries are in every episode. Rape, neglect, physical abuse, spousal abuse, teen pregnancy, abortion, and incest have all been plots, sometimes involving young kids and teens; some patients have serious psychological ailments. The sexual relationships between doctors are often at the center of the drama. Parents will want to watch with their teens and be prepared for a follow-up conversation. If you allow your teens to watch, make sure they're comfortable seeing gross visuals of blood and surgeries.
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Speaking from my own experience..
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What's the Story?
ER is an Emmy-winning medical drama series based in the emergency room of a busy Chicago hospital. Created by Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) and John Wells (The West Wing, Third Watch), the series centers on the medical professionals in the hospital. ER has turned out stars such as George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and Noah Wyle; guest stars have included Sally Field, who received an Emmy for her role.
Is It Any Good?
This series is an excellent medical drama that has remained popular for good reason, but it's not appropriate for kids. With its emotionally wrenching scenes, images of graphic and bloody injuries, focus on death and disease, and heavy plots that range from domestic violence to abortion, ER is just too intense for tweens and many younger teens.
In addition to all the death and tragedy, episodes often focus on the ER doctors' personal lives, which involve affairs, love triangles, addiction, terminal illness, and more. In fact, the doctors have nearly as many problems as their patients. For example, Dr. Green (Anthony Edwards) dealt with a brain tumor, remission, a new baby, a new marriage, and a return of his illness in a matter of two seasons. Still, the show's impeccable writing and memorable characters made it a mainstay on NBC for a decade.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether or not they think the situations presented on ER are realistic. How do the doctors cope with their highly stressful jobs, make tough decisions, and deal with life-and-death situations?
Are the characters intended to be role models?
How do the characters on ER demonstrate compassion, communication, and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?
- Premiere date: September 19, 1994
- Cast: Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Noah Wyle
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Awards: Emmy, Golden Globe
- Last updated: May 6, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Medical soap is gripping -- and occasionally graphic.
Grey's spin-off is entertaining, but for adults only.
Goofy medical comedy with heart; for older teens.
For kids who love drama
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