A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Series discusses details surrounding Elisa Lam's death, the questions that remain about it. However, this is contextualized within the cult history of the hotel itself. Some conversations focus on the police investigation, others concentrate on the investigations and "evidence" introduced by amateur sleuths and other social media figures interested in the case.
Positive Role Models
Lots of conversation about types of people who stay at the hotel, ranging from people who are poor, drug addicted, mentally ill, convicted sex offenders, and serial killers. Elisa Lam was Chinese Canadian. Images of people living on Skid Row or living in the hotel decades prior are mainly of Black and Latinx individuals.
Violence & Scariness
Series is about a murder. Images of guns. Stories about violent predators and violent acts taking place at the hotel, including domestic violence, rape, murders, suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A side glimpse of a woman's bare breasts and an image of a woman in her underwear are briefly shown during the opening credits. Prostitution is referenced. Elisa Lam's dating history is discussed as part of the investigation.
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Curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are occasionally uttered.
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Products & Purchases
Tumblr is discussed, and a Facebook group dedicated to investigating the murder is briefly referenced. The Last Bookstore, a local L.A. shop, is frequently featured as a result of the investigation.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking, smoking, drugs, and drug abuse are discussed, and also made visible in reenactments. Speculation that Elisa Lam was under the influence of drugs prior to her disappearance.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the docuseries Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel centers around the investigation of a young woman who died while staying at an infamous Los Angeles hotel. It contains lots of discussions about violent behaviors and other disturbing events, including gun violence, murder, suicide, and drug activity, all of which are briefly shown in reenactments. There's some occasional cursing, brief partial nudity, and references to prostitution. Social media sites like Tumblr are shown, and some L.A. haunts, including The Last Bookstore, are featured.
Is It Any Good?
This sensational four-part documentary series examines the highly publicized disappearance and death of Elisa Lam. However, much of the focus is on how her death relates to the Cecil Hotel's grim history, which is full of violent stories about multiple murders, suicides, and alleged ghost hauntings. The fact that some of California's most notorious deviants, like serial killer Richard Ramirez, are associated with the hotel adds to the hype. Also fueling the cult-like interest in Elisa Lam's death is security footage of what many believe are her final moments, the public release of which has led to endless speculation about what happened to her and why.
While amateur sleuths and conspiracy theorists use social media to investigate and share their opinions about the subject, some of which include accusations of police cover-ups and concerns about the hotel's supernatural forces, those directly affiliated with the case assert that there are more obvious and logical reasons that can explain what happened. But Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel creates the sense that no one has real answers, and that the hotel somehow played a role in Elisa Lam's demise. While this may feed some people's appetites for dark mysteries and conspiracy theories, die-hard crime investigation fans will find it lacking.
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.