A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Overall, despite its heavy, dark content, the show provides serious social commentary on the complex problems faced by inner cities.
Positive Role Models
The show's characters and their actions are complex -- ranging from criminal to selfish to noble. While criminal behavior is treated as negative, those who are fighting crime aren't always ethically motivated. The characters and the actors who play them are a diverse group.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent scenes of people being murdered. Guns and other weapons are visibly used to cause bodily harm. There are also recurring discussions of violent acts as related to criminal investigations. Lots of gang-related fighting (including punching and kicking) resulting in bodily harm. Children engage in disruptive behavior in and outside of school.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Strong sexual content, including nudity. Explicit, gratuitous remarks about sex and sexual activity are frequent.
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Very strong language, including the continual use of "f--k" and other swear words. The swearing is often gratuitous.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drug trafficking is prominently discussed and sometimes visible, thought it's presented within context (drug dealing is a major theme of the show). Both adults and minors drink and use tobacco products.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark, mature series offers a very realistic representation of urban crime and the other problems that affect inner cities (but, unfortunately, offers few solutions). It constantly deals with gang violence, drug trafficking, and murder and frequently criticizes law enforcement and government agencies. It also contains extremely strong language and some nudity -- all of which makes it strictly for adults only.
Is It Any Good?
While The Wire takes a much-needed critical look at the social problems and institutional ineffectiveness of urban America, it fails to offer gratifying solutions to those problems. But in many ways that's actually the strength of this unflinchingly violent, realistic show; its straightforward, uncomfortable portrayal of America's urban crisis makes the issues facing urban America difficult to forget.
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.