Big Sky

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Big Sky TV Poster Image
Exploitative violence against women in so-so thriller.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although there's a sense that justice prevails, the plot generally plays up danger and uncertainty and lingers on the distress of and violence against women in a way that feels exploitative. 

Positive Role Models

Cassie, a Black woman, is in many ways a strong female lead who's loyal to her job and determined to find the answer to a mystery and make criminals pay; she also has a complicated past. Law enforcement personnel are not to be trusted and have duplicitous aims. A criminal has stereotypical "reasons" for his violence: a mother who humiliates him. A nonbinary actor plays a trans character in a respectful portrait. 

Violence

This show's plotline revolves around the kidnaping of three women, and the nefarious plans for them. Sudden moments of violence include a point-blank shooting that leaves windows covered with blood, multiple characters being tased into unconsciousness, kidnapings, a bar fight with two women pushing and slapping each other. We see a body wrapped in plastic and duct taped.

Sex

Characters have sex, which we see as closeups on faces and bare shoulders while romantic music plays. A sex worker asks a potential client "Wanna party?" and climbs into his truck; she then sits on his lap and kisses him. Sex is a plot complication, i.e. infidelity and a love triangle. 

Language

Language includes "asshole," "hell," "crap," "ass," "damn," and "dick" (meaning someone who is rude).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place in bars with adults drinking; no one acts drunk. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Big Sky is a mystery series about a group of women who are kidnaped and the private investigators who try to find them. With a series built around a series of potentially deadly crimes, and the criminals who commit them, violence is frequent. Expect sudden on-screen deaths including a point-blank shooting, as well as women being tased, a man who threatens to torture them, a body wrapped in plastic, and other sudden violence. Most violence is committed against women by men and the camera lingers on the women's distress. Sexual content includes characters having sex, but what we see are bare shoulders and ecstatic faces while romantic music plays. Sex is also a soap-opera style complication, with infidelity and a love triangle. Sex workers are seen flirting with customers in brief outfits at a truck stop. Some scenes take place in bars; no one acts drunk. A Black woman is the main character; she's a strong female lead who's good at her job and powerful, but has a complicated past and makes mistakes, particularly in her romantic life. Law enforcement agents can't always be trusted. Language includes "asshole," "ass," "hell," "damn," "crap," and "dick." A non-binary actor plays a trans character in a respectful portrait. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJason Haddad October 1, 2021

Garbage piece of crap show that needs to be shut down by the government

I advocate that the producers of this show and shows like these get fired and thrown behind bars for exploiting child sex trafficking and violence against young... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 and 13-year-old Written byLeslie C. December 16, 2020

It is very good

Keeps you on the edge of your seat
Teen, 13 years old Written byCheetahStriker43 May 26, 2021

Big Sky

I think this show is Amazing but it does have bad things in there that might scare littler kids but overall really good show.

What's the story?

Something's going very wrong in rural Montana, and in mystery series Big Sky, private investigators team up to uncover the mystery and save a trio of women who have been kidnaped. Meanwhile, Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) owns her own detective agency in Helena, Montana, and she's got problems of her own: ex-cop Jenny (Katheryn Winnick) is ready to kick Cassie's teeth in after Cassie sleeps with Jenny's estranged husband (and Cassie's employee), Cody Hoyt (Ryan Philippe). But all that's put aside when Danielle (Natalie Alyn Lind) and Grace (Jade Pettyjohn) go missing on a Montana road trip -- and creepy trucker Ronald (Brian Geraghty) knows more than he's telling. Can the detectives uncover the evil plot that's behind the series of local disappearances? Or will they wind up getting caught in the trap too? 

Is it any good?

It has clear ambitions to be a gripping mystery series on the order of 24 or The Blacklist, but with cliched plot twists and rote characters, this show's reach exceeds its grasp. With its first shots of little-town life in snowbound Montana, Big Sky seems to be reaching for a Twin Peaks vibe, but while that show wowed and confused viewers with its cast of memorable weirdos, Helena's everyday people are a lot more bland, and that definitely includes Ryan Philippe's generic good-guy P.I. Cody Hoyt, as well as the two women caught up in complicated feelings for him, both detective also: detective agency owner Cassie and Cody's estranged wife Jenny. In the series of novels that Big Sky is drawn from, Cass is the heroine and center of the story, but the show doesn't seem that interested in her, or in Jenny; the focus is instead on their feelings for the biggest name in the cast. 

In Big Sky's marquee storyline, the center of the screen belongs to the gentlemen in the cast, too, with showrunner David E. Kelley electing to focus on by-the-book homicidal maniac trucker Ronald and his evil cohorts rather than the trio of women they kidnap. The men get moments in which they publicly pretend to be perfectly normal guys (albeit ones with quirks that would alert a herd of elephants to their oddness), and then scenes in which they leer and threaten terrible things; the women are reduced mainly to cowering and shrieking as the camera dotes on the sight. It just all feels so un-fresh, despite the gorgeous Montana setting, and lots of twists (that are telegraphed long before they arrive). Let's call it a swing and a miss. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Big Sky's main female protagonist flips the script when it comes to "traditional" portrayals of women, work, and motherhood. How does Cassie compare to other strong female leads on TV?

  • How does the violence in this show affect you? Does it seem more or less violent that other mysteries or legal dramas you've seen?

  • Mystery series often center on a criminal case with one main detective working intrepidly to solve it. What is it about this setup that's appealing to viewers? In real life, do detectives usually work alone? Why or why not? What is it about the "one person against the world" plotline that makes it so enduring? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate