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 Common Law is a mismatched partner cop comedy, on the order of Miami Vice (the '80s series) with some gunplay and an occasional dead body. The bickering pair of detectives at the center of the series are handsome and quippy, moving through homicide investigations with a lot of one-liners and snark. Since the series is a crime-centered dramedy, plenty of wrongdoing of various stripes will be shown, but the gore is kept out and the mood is one of light suspense instead of dread or terror. There are a lot of sexy singles in the police department, apparently, and detectives Marks and Mitchell get around with numerous shapely female colleagues. They're age-appropriate and treated (mostly) with respect, though there are some cringe-worthy jokes about Mitchell's phobia of commitment.
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What's the story?
Stop me if you've heard something like this before: In the dramedy COMMON LAW, homicide detective Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) is an uptight white guy; his partner, Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole), is groovy, black, relaxed, and a real ladies' magnet. The partners are so mismatched that their New Age-y captain sends them to couples counseling so they can work together more smoothly. In the meantime, they argue their way through murder cases and counseling sessions, solving the latter by the end of each hour-long episode.
Is it any good?
The show is not un-charming in a sort of 48 Hours-lite kind of way. After years of grim police procedurals of the mold of CSI and Law & Order, it's rather refreshing to see a cop show that plays crime and murder for laughs. The show's leads are very easy on the eyes, have genuine chemistry, and the central gimmick of sending the warring partners to couples counseling is one that yields some interesting dilemmas.
All that said, the trope of salt-and-pepper good cop/bad cop partners is so hackneyed that it can't help but dent Common Law's appeal. Detective Mitchell may particularly furrow parents' brows, given as he is to hooking up with nubile female coworkers and pulling out his gun to threaten reluctant unarmed suspects to talk. It's all played for laughs, but that's not really funny. Otherwise, this is a perfectly pleasant way to kill an hour with a show that will entertain you while it's on then pass right through your brain, leaving no troublesome thought residue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Detective Mitchell pulls out his gun and threatens unarmed suspects. Is that what police officers do in real life? Do you think viewers get the idea that this is an acceptable tactic, maybe even sort of funny, from watching?
Detectives Mitchell and Marks are sent to couples counseling because they can't function efficiently as a team at work. Is this something that happens in real life? Why or why not? How much do you think couples counseling costs? Would a counselor who advises real-life couples be willing to treat work partners?
Police work looks pretty glamorous in Common Law. Do the police officers you have seen look like Detectives Marks and Mitchell? What about the people they work with? Are the criminals on Common Law as good looking as the police officers and criminal justice professionals? If not, why do you think this is?
For kids who love drama and comedy
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