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 Criminal is a procedural police drama with a unique format. The show is broken up into four individual series, Criminal: UK, Criminal: France, Criminal: Germany, and Criminal: Spain. However, the format is the same for each series, as police officers attempt to elicit a confession from a suspect over the course of a long interrogation. The crimes are often violent and upsetting and include homicide, hate crimes, domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, serial murder, and acts of terrorism, though they are only talked about and not shown (outside of some crime scene photos). One of the cases involves sexual assault and murder, and another crime is attributed to a cocaine dealer. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more.
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What's the story?
CRIMINAL is a Netflix police procedural show split into four different series, each taking place in a different country: Britain, France, Germany, and Spain. Each series includes 3 standalone episodes, which are all shot in a single location that shows 3 different areas of a police interrogation -- the interrogation room where the suspect is held; the room on the other side of the one-way mirror where detectives watch the interrogation unfold; and the hallway and stairs right outside the interrogation areas. In each of the 12 episodes, a team of police officers from their respective country interrogate a suspected criminal until they elicit a confession.
Is it any good?
As a formal exercise in police procedural television, this could be very exciting. Seeing police work under similar circumstances in different countries opens up a lot of possibilities for either character studies (as in Columbo or Law & Order: Criminal Intent, where we already know who committed the crimes) or illuminating cultural differences in justice systems. However, Criminal opts for neither of those possibilities. Instead, the show drags out run-of-the-mill setups similar to those that have been used on police procedural shows for the last 20 years. Though it's entertaining, the viewer ends up learning next to nothing about either the characters or the different country's settings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about interrogation. What kind of tactics do the police use to elicit confessions in Criminal? How do the police officers adapt their tactics to different suspects?
Why do you think Criminal creators chose to break up the series into different countries? How do the interrogation practices differ by country? Do you think these differences say anything about the cultures of those particular countries?
Could you predict the outcome in any, or all, of these cases? What are some of the things the writers could have done to make the stories less predictable?
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