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 this reality series includes actual footage of men and women under the age of 25 getting stopped, cited, and arrested by police officers. Those who were busted offer their own interpretation of events, often failing to take responsibility for their actions. Expect some salty language (though the strongest curse words are bleeped out), occasional violent behavior, reenactments that include smoking and drinking (some by people who are underage), and some discussions about issues like prostitution.
What's the story?
BUSTED features the stories of actual men and women under 25 who have been stopped, cited, and/or arrested by the police, as well as those of the police officers who "busted" them. Much like the police reality classic Cops, cameras follow the officers as they patrol the streets of various Southern California locations, filming the cops' various interactions with alleged suspects. Unlike Cops, in this show, said suspects offer their own version of the story (after the fact) as well as their thoughts and opinions about how the officers acted. Viewers find out about any punitive fines/sentences at the end of each story.
Is it any good?
The show -- which claims that 4 million young people are busted by law enforcement every year -- tries to offer a hip, edgy look at both sides of these police stories. Unfortunately, what it actually does is spotlight some of the dumb, often dangerous things people do without taking responsibility for them. Most of the young people featured in Busted complain endlessly about how unfairly the police treated them, even blaming others for the things they did wrong. Others seem simply clueless about how much danger they put themselves and others in with reckless behavior like driving while heavily intoxicated and forcing police officers to chase them.
Busted isn't particularly thought provoking or interesting, unless you're a connoisseur of this kind of show. It isn't as gritty as Cops or other more adult-oriented police reality shows, but it has enough iffy content -- from strong language to occasional violent behavior -- that it's not age-appropriate for younger viewers, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the consequences of the behavior depicted on this show. (Check out our tips for talking to your kids about drinking and other risky behaviors.) What mistakes did the people featured in this show make? Teens, how can you avoid making the same mistakes? Families can also discuss how the media portrays law enforcement. Do shows like this make you feel any safer? What messages do they convey about young people today?
Our editors recommend
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.
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