APB

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
APB TV Poster Image
Lighter police procedural has a cool technology angle.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The diverse cast includes women and people of color in positions of power who are on the right side of the law. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

After suffering a personal tragedy, Gideon Reeves tries to help others, though he's impatient and snappy. Detective Amelia Murphy is an effective police officer and parent who lives in a multigenerational home with her mom and son. 

Violence

Depictions of crimes have sudden violence: shootings, stabbings, fistfights, hit-and-run car accidents. The victims of crimes may be young children or pets. On one show, a dog loses a leg in an explosion. Family members of people who are injured or killed are shown grieving, crying, and shrieking. Dead bodies are briefly shown, as is blood from injuries; no intense gore. 

Sex

Many characters are single and interested in dating. Expect kissing and references to sex. 

Language

Frequent use of "hell," "son of a bitch," "smartass," "damn." Insulting language aimed at criminals, who are called "morons" and "scumbags." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs sometimes figure into crimes: A thief tries to steal pharmaceuticals from a drugstore. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that APB is a drama about an eccentric rich man who pours money into a city police force to improve it. The tone is lighter than many police procedurals, but violent crimes are depicted -- shootings, stabbings, armed robberies, and hit-and-run car accidents -- with blood but no gore. Dead bodies are shown briefly. Children and pets are harmed, and their loved ones cry over deaths or injuries. Words such as "hell," "damn," and "ass" are used, and criminals are called "scumbags" and "morons." Drugs are featured in some plotlines: A criminal robs a drugstore for pharmaceuticals. Overall, most episodes end with the bad guys put away by a close-knit and diverse group of cops; you could do worse for whole-family viewing. 

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What's the story?

What if a smart phone app turned an entire city into a neighborhood watch? In APB, that city is Chicago, and the man behind the app -- and the high-tech rejuvenation of the city's police force -- is Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk). After the tragic loss of a loved one who was suddenly murdered, Elon Musk-esque tech billionaire Reeves makes a deal with the bankrupt city: The Chicago PD is now under his control, and he's ready, willing, and able to pour millions into new crime-fighting technology, such as a new app that allows every citizen to directly report crime to the police. But that's only the beginning. With his right-hand woman Detective Amelia Murphy (Natalie Martinez) leading a team of competent cops under the direction of Sargeant Ed Conrad (Ernie Hudson), Reeves hopes to help Chicago step into the future of law enforcement, when the crimes are big and the gadgets he invents to stop them are bigger.

Is it any good?

Gee-whiz gadgets and a generally light tone make this drama a better bet for family watching than many gory and/or exploitative police procedurals. Many of Reeves' inventions have a Batman-esque appeal: A motorcycle that drops a set of deterrent spikes to slow down criminals during high-speed chases is a typical example. And they're made to stop criminals, not to hurt or kill them, which also contributes to APB's cheery tone, since the bad guys are clapped into jail at the end of every episode instead of meeting a grisly end, as happens on many cop shows. There are no long, lingering shots of (usually female, often scantily clad) dead bodies here; a more typical scene has Reeves and his cohorts gathering to test out a new whirligig and give each other high-fives. 

Yet APB isn't total fluff. The law enforcement storylines are given a bit of emotional weight with peeks into the officers' private lives: Reeves is married to his work; Murphy has a fellow police officer ex and a complicated young son. The crimes the APB officers solve can be dark, too. But that's where Gideon Reeves comes in, and everything's put back to rights when the credits roll, the victims recovered, the miscreants jailed. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how TV procedurals such as APB feature disturbing and violent crimes. Do shows like this one sensationalize violence? Make it appealing? 

  • Is APB's use of technology realistic? Are the weapons, surveillance, and deterrent devices things that actually exist? Pick an example and explain why such an invention would or wouldn't be a good idea. 

  • How realistic are the characters and scenarios on this show? How does the show differ from other crime shows?

TV details

For kids who love crime drama

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