CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Science prevails in mature, long-running crime procedural.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 45 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

While every episode of the show is about law enforcement officials using science and creativity to solve crimes and stop criminals, the series' relentlessly dark, violent tone overshadows positive take-aways. Repeated focus on violence against women.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although the main characters are strong and smart, they're also flawed -- as well as not very deeply developed. Female characters are just as integral (and important) to the drama as men.

Violence

Very bloody and gruesome. Lots of graphic inside-the-body shots. Many dead bodies. Occasional episodes feature the CSI crew in peril.

Sex

Varies from episode to episode; some installments have focused on sadomasochism, infantilism, etc. Some romance between characters, though very little explicit sexual content.

Language

Occasional swearing -- "ass," "bitch," etc.

Consumerism

Product placement occurs subtly, mostly with cars and technology.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Relatively minor alcohol use by main characters. Drugs often play a role in crimes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this popular crime show features strong doses of graphic violence, as well as lots of blood, drug content, and sexual situations. Although the series' focus is on solving crimes and seeking justice, the violence is sometimes gratuitous, including a notable emphasis on murdered women. Character development is much less important than depicting the crimes; as a consequence, the show lacks a certain emotional resonance. Plots focusing on unusual lifestyles are treated with respect.

Wondering if CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFREDDYMERCURY August 3, 2018

Best Crime Cult Classic

It is an awesome show, to grizzly for young childern, one of the characters, Warrick tends to gamble
Adult Written byMatt B. April 1, 2018

A crime show that contains murders and sexual crimes.

It's a good show but not for children. It contains a lot of blood, violence and at times sexual content.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMRIANLAND July 1, 2019

As a lover of crime shows, this one is amazing, I love it

Not for young kids, Warrick, One of the characters, tends to gamble
Teen, 16 years old Written bySchmoopy15 August 21, 2018

The best show ever

There are great role models, positive messages, and it's an all around good show. I am in love with it!

What's the story?

Set against the flashy backdrop of Las Vegas, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION follows a smart, good-looking crime lab crew as they use science and technology to solve the city's most gruesome crimes. Most episodes begin shortly before a victim is found dead, giving viewers a hint of what happened before the crime lab gets involved. Then the steel-stomached investigators arrive: Brainy, bug-obsessed Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is the original head of the team; former exotic dancer and single mother Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) began the series as a supervisor and took over as boss when Grissom retired; and Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), Nick Stokes (George Eads), and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) round out the rest of the cast. Rubber gloves, cotton swabs, fingerprint lifters, and keen senses play key roles in the initial evidence collection. Back at the lab, the crew tries to reconstruct the crime scene, testing theories against the evidence until the truth is revealed.

Is it any good?

Regularly staking out the top spot in the Nielsen ratings, CSI has had a broader affect on the real world. Universities across the country have seen an increase in enrollment in forensic science programs, and lawyers are finding that jurors are more familiar with DNA evidence and other forensic processes. This documented phenomenon is called "the CSI effect." People love the show because of its voyeuristic appeal; plus, no matter how bizarre the crime, the CSI team can always solve it, offering a satisfying conclusion each week.

The show's success has resulted in two CBS offshoots to date (as well as numerous imitators on other networks): CSI: Miami and CSI: NY. While both of these shows have strong followings, neither rises to the level of the original in casting, characterization, or complexity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the show repeatedly focuses on abuse against vulnerable people. Is this a reflection of reality?

  • How do kids feel when they see gory images, even in the context of scientific discovery?

  • What fascinates kids about the methods the investigators use to solve the crimes? Do you think the show's use of technology is realistic?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate