Dark Blue

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Dark Blue TV Poster Image
Complex show about undercover life is exciting but violent.

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

For Shaw, the ends justify the means -- he's willing to break a few rules if it will help him catch his quarry, and his team members sometimes have to help their targets engage in criminal acts to maintain their cover. Consequently, the line between right and wrong often gets pretty fuzzy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shaw and his team constantly deal in deception as they try to gain their targets' confidence. To maintain their cover, they must sometimes engage in morally dubious behavior, and their long-term assignments can make them question who they really are.


Several intensely violent scenes, including torture and calculated murders. Criminals pull off daring heists using heavy-duty firearms and engage in full-scale gun battles with the police using automatic weapons.


Some characters flirt, sometimes strongly.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes take place in bars, where people are drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this violent drama about undercover cops examines the impact of lying for a living -- and how pretending to be a criminal for an extended period of time can take a toll on your psyche. To win the trust of their targets, these police officers must sometimes act like criminals themselves. Expect plenty of action involving high-stakes heists, heavy-duty shootouts, and callous, calculated brutality. Some scenes even include torture and murder. There’s also some drinking and relatively mild sexual content.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old November 25, 2009
stuip only the kid who is experomenting with tv will watch this

What's the story?

Carter Shaw (Dylan McDermott) operates a secretive unit of undercover LAPD cops who get in deep and stay there for days, or even weeks, at a time. Their record is impressive, and his team has brought down some major criminals, but the work takes a toll on all of them. Pretending to be someone else -- essentially living a lie -- requires the dedicated officers to become someone else. And to maintain their cover, they sometimes have to tread a fine line between breaking the law and blowing their cover. Even when their assignments are over, they often find that it’s not so easy to leave their fictitious identities behind.

Is it any good?

DARK BLUE examines the thin line between cops and criminals. When an agent spends too much time on an assignment or seems to be doing too good a job maintaining cover, Shaw and his colleagues sometimes start to worry that he or she might have flipped completely. It's an intriguing gray area that makes for complicated moral questions and exciting television. As Shaw explains to a teammate, “There’s going under, and then there’s stepping over. I get scared when I don’t know the difference.”

Unlike other cat-and-mouse police dramas that alternate between showing the bad guys and their pursuers, Dark Blue focuses on the criminals’ world. This is an environment where nobody trusts anyone -- a point made even clearer by that fact that one member of the crew is secretly an undercover cop. As such, there’s plenty of casual violence, and many scenes that feature callous, calculated brutality. Some of it is tough to stomach, but it often seems realistic considering that the main characters are trying to get as close as they can to some of the city’s most dangerous mobsters and gang lords.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about living undercover. Do you think it would be hard to work as an undercover cop? Do other movies or TV shows address this issue? What would you do if your assignment required you to commit a violent crime or risk exposing your identity?

  • How does the show portray both criminals and law enforcement officials? What separates the two groups -- why is one heroic and the other villainous?

  • How do the cops on this team differ from those in other police shows? Do cops work together more effectively on other shows that focus on more traditional units?

TV details

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