TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Absentia TV Poster Image
Generic serial killer mystery wastes good lead performance.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Characters' lives are complex, and a serial killer is at large. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mother, father, and stepmother all care very deeply for Flynn and try to make this bizarre situation easy on him.


Brutal beatings; a woman is tortured by being forced to almost drown in a tank of water multiple times; corpses in various stages of decomposition are shown; victims of a serial killer are shown with their eyelids cut off; a young character is injured in a car crash.


A couple has sex, no nudity is shown; a prostitute is shown wearing lingerie.



"F--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "hell."


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character has a drinking problem; Emily is drugged during her abduction.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Absentia is a grim police drama with some very disturbing scenes and gory details. The plot deals with the aftermath of a woman’s forced imprisonment and torture by a potential serial killer whose signature is cutting the eyelids off his victims. Beyond that, violence includes brutal beatings; a woman is tortured by being forced to almost drown in a tank of water multiple times; corpses in various stages of decomposition are shown; and a young character is injured in a car crash.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byRebecca T. May 31, 2018

Looked up on another review site

This is what they had on the movie.

Sex scene in a hotel room shows sides of woman's breasts pressed against the man's chest. No private parts are... Continue reading
Adult Written bymm126 August 16, 2018

Liked the suspense - plot a bit wild

Strong female lead but lots of awful serial killer stuff, tortured kids etc
Teen, 13 years old Written bypansexualpotato May 16, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written bySuperTrini747 March 16, 2021

Bit depressing, but expected.

Not much to say, pretty violent and touches on some very controvertial things like kidnapping, beating, and another one which might not be appropriate to mentio... Continue reading

What's the story?

Six years ago, FBI Agent Emily Byrne was pronounced dead in ABSENTIA, and Conrad Harlow, a suspect in a number of missing persons cases, was imprisoned for her murder. Fast-forward to present day, and Emily reappears, having escaped from a deserted industrial space where she'd been held prisoner by an unseen captor since her disappearance. Now Emily has to readjust to a world where everyone thought she was dead. Her husband has remarried and her son, Flynn, now calls another person Mom. As Emily tries to reconnect wth her family, Harlowe gets released and the FBI investigates her story, but all the facts don't quite add up.

Is it any good?

This series sets up an intriguing mystery, but it's all served in a very familiar package. Unceasingly dour in tone and filmed in a murky palette, Absentia wants to be sure the viewer knows this is dark, serious subject matter. Unfortunately that doesn't make it very interesting to watch. Stana Katic gives a good performance as Emily, particularly in the scenes when she tries to reconnect with the son she doesn't know and reconcile with the fact that the husband she still loves has moved on with his life. It's this family drama story that actually differentiates Absentia; without it, all that's left is just another grim serial killer story. It's too bad that Katic isn't surrounded by a stronger supporting cast who could bring something more unique to their characters than the rather obvious portrayals of raggedy cops, tough police captains, and stiff FBI bosses that fill out Absentia's ranks. Older teens with strong stomachs and lowered expectations may find the twists of the mystery interesting, but generic storytelling is the order of the day here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of loss and family in Absentia. How do you think you'd react if someone you thought was dead came back into your life?

  • Do gross details make a story more believable? Do they make a story more intriguing or do they push you away?

  • There have been lots of serial killers in movies and on TV shows. Why do you think writers keep using these kinds of characters even though there have already been so many of them?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dark drama

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