By Kari Croop,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Bloody, blah melodrama goes for the gut with gross visuals.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
There's a constant sense of chaos and a never-ending onslaught of carnage. (The show also serves as a subtle critique of the U.S. healthcare system, particularly when it comes to low-income populations and their access to quality care.) That said, there's an emphasis on teamwork, bravery, and commitment to the art of saving lives.
Positive Role Models
The doctors and nurses have their quirks, but the medical staff is diverse and works tirelessly to save lives in spite of overwhelming odds. Men and woman are equals on the floor, and there are several strong female role models.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic imagery includes gunshot wounds, broken bones, lacerations and emergency procedures. (A doctor uses a drill to make a hole in a patient's brain to drain the blood, etc.) Blood spills, spurts, pools -- you name it.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Light sexual tension between characters.
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Words like "damn" and "hell" are audible.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Code Black is an adult-oriented medical drama that's based on a documentary of the same name and, much like its source material, contains bloody, graphic depictions of injuries, surgeries, and life-saving medical procedures. (Like, blood literally flows on the floor while doctors and nurses are tending to their patients.) You'll also hear words like "hell" and "damn" and see light sexual tension.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
Inspired by Ryan McGarry's award-winning documentary of the same name, CODE BLACK centers on the bustling ER inside Angel's Memorial Hospital, where doctors and nurses face a constant, color-coded threat of being overwhelmed by too many patients. As four new residents (Bonnie Somerville, Melanie Chandra, Harry Ford, and Benjamin Hollingsworth) enter the fray under the supervision of an unflappable nurse (Luis Guzman), the ward's veteran doctors (Marcia Gay Harden and Raza Jaffrey) push through their differences to save as many lives as they can.
Is It Any Good?
Code Black pulls out all the stops to show the pressures of daily life in the ER, yet somewhere among all the blood and guts, it forgot the most important thing: heart. The characters are admirable and capable, and there's no doubt they care about what they do. But without the support of strong writing to make us care about them, they play as nothing more than schmaltzy caricatures of the medical professionals they're trying to portray. Add in some heavy-handed dialogue, and it's more Code Blech than Black.
Of course, the award-winning documentary that inspired it is another story and infinitely worth your time if the show's premise piques your interest. You'll find the same level of graphic imagery, so be prepared. But you'll also find the inspiring stories of real people who find fulfillment on the front lines in spite of punishing odds because they love what they do -- and because the drama is real.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Code Black's depiction of an emergency room as a bloody, gory place that's understaffed with overworked people. How close does Code Black come to portraying the realities of emergency care? Do the blood and guts serve a higher purpose, or are they just there for the shock factor?
How does Code Black compare to the critically acclaimed documentary of the same name that inspired it? Which is more compelling -- the realties of emergency-room medicine or a fictionalized version of the truth? How well does the concept translate to scripted television?
How does Code Black compare to other popular medical dramas on television? Is it doing anything differently or just delivering more of the same?
- Premiere date: September 30, 2015
- Cast: Marcia Gay Harden, Bonnie Somerville, Luis Guzman
- Network: CBS
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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.
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Where to Watch
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