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 Chicago P.D. is an intense police procedural with blood, gore, menace, and violence in each episode. The show's central characters are police detectives, and they investigate a wide variety of gruesome and sordid crimes. Viewers can expect to see gun battles, sometimes many in a single episode, officers suddenly killed, pools of blood and dead bodies. Sometimes the dead bodies are also mutilated: a headless torso with stab wounds, a severed arm floating in a vat of hydrochloric acid. Drugs are frequently discussed in the context of criminal investigations, and characters drink onscreen and visit bars. Some of the show's detectives are single and dating; there are references to their sex life and some kissing and flirting onscreen. There are also references to sexual practices such as auto-erotic asphyxiation and group sex. Many of the show's characters are complex, and may not always do the right thing or learn from their mistakes.
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What's the story?
On one side: the gangs, drug rings, pedophiles, and serial killers of Chicago. On the other, the stalwart detectives of CHICAGO P.D., who fight each day to investigate crimes and bring their perpetrators to justice. At the center of the twisty action is Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), a formerly dirty cop now heading the P.D.'s intelligence unit, and the subject of rumors that he's actually still dirty. Under his command are Detective Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda), who once arrested Voight for harassment, and now works for him; Voight's tough pseudo-daughter Detective Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush); Lindsay's brash partner Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer); veteran undercover officer Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas), and a similarly conflicted cast of officers, family members and, of course, each week's cast of criminals, victims and ne'er-do-wells.
Is it any good?
If you've ever watched Law & Order (any of them), this show is going to seem very familiar to you. There's a lot of tromping around in various picturesque or sordid-looking locales, ride-alongs in the police car, gun battles, cops getting off one-liners against each other in ill-lit police stations. Yep, this is another Dick Wolf show with a crime-of-the-week setup, bolstered with ongoing dark adult soap opera drama: This cop is accused of a murder he didn't commit, that one has a teenage daughter he's worried is going bad.
It's all familiar stuff, and it's a little gory and talky for anyone younger than mature teens. But if you customarily enjoy the L&O franchise, or the show from which Chicago P.D. was spun off, Chicago Fire, you may want to check this one out. The characters are nice to look at (too nice to be realistic, actually, but oh well), have satisfyingly heroic-yet-complicated backstories, and the action is fast and furious since this show lacks the courtroom aspect of the L&O shows.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Chicago P.D. is a realistic look at police work. Do real police officers engage in this many gun battles? What happens in real life when a gun is fired by a criminal or officer?
Have you ever met any police detectives? Did they look like the detectives on Chicago P.D.? Were they older or younger? More attractive or less?
This show was created by Dick Wolf, who instituted the Law & Order franchise. Does that surprise you? Do you see similarities between those shows and this one?