A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Each episode features a different criminal interrogation, most of which are successful. There are positive messages around persistence and creative problem-solving under pressure.
Positive Role Models
The show features an international cast. However, the heavy procedural format makes it difficult to get a read on any of the recurring characters, other than that they're successful at their jobs.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is limited to the discussions of crimes, but those include murder, sexual assault, poisoning, domestic abuse, human trafficking, and acts of terror. Crime scene photos are shown in some episodes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One of the episodes centers around the sexual assault and murder of a teenager by her stepfather. Nothing is shown, but the interrogations are often blunt when discussing sex.
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Profanity includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters occasionally smoke during breaks. There's no drinking or drug use shown, but some of the crimes are drug-related, including a cocaine dealer suspected of a terrorist affiliation.
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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.
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.
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.