TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Deception TV Poster Image
High-society whodunit downplays sex, drugs, and violence.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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

While seeking truth and justice is a major theme, it's often outweighed by the overarching sense of dishonesty and deception. Most characters are hiding something, although some keep far more serious secrets than others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although the main character has to lie to do her job, she does it with good intentions and makes for a strong, smart female lead. She also makes generally positive choices when faced with difficult decisions. Most secondary characters are duplicitous -- or at least make you wonder whether they can be trusted.


The show centers around the death of a woman who might have been murdered, but there's minimal blood. Other violence includes brief fist fights, etc.


Some kissing and making out with implied sex, but nothing graphic. Some characters have had extramarital affairs.


Audible words include "damn" and "ass," in addition to sexually charged terms like "t-ts," "horny," and "bang."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The story centers around a woman who has a history of subtance abuse and supposedly died from a drug overdose. Secondary characters drink socially and do drugs like cocaine, oftentimes to excess and at inappropriate times.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deception deals with some potentially iffy themes, including drug addiction, adultery, and alcoholism, but does so in a subtle way that makes it passable for older teens. That said, you'll hear words like "damn" and "ass," in addition to sexually charged terms like "t-ts," "horny," and "bang." Although sexual activity is implied, there's rarely more than kissing onscreen, and the violence is mostly mild with minimal blood.

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Teen, 15 years old Written byMoonlight255 February 13, 2013

Great Show

A great show for older teens

What's the story?

When pharmaceutical heiress Vivian Bowers (Bree Williamson) is found dead of an apparent drug overdose, her childhood best friend, Detective Joanna Locasto (Meagan Good), goes undercover as a live-in houseguest in Vivian's sweeping family home to find out whether it was actually a homicide. But living with Vivian's privileged parents (Victor Garber and Katherine LaNasa) requires Joanna to become a master of DECEPTION -- and play both sides of a love triangle involving her former partner (Laz Alonso) and Vivian's brother Julian (Wes Brown), a former flame.

Is it any good?

Between the lofty living and pathological lying, there's no denying that Deception has a lot in common with the guilty-pleasure ABC drama Revenge. But once you've seen both shows, this NBC challenger feels far subtler and more grounded in reality, despite a few hard-to-swallow plot points (like the fact that the Bowerses would want a house guest in the first place). In terms of acting and suspense, this isn't The Killing. But the story does succeed at delivering some surprising twists -- you'll just need patience thanks to writers who don't typically drop too many bombs.

On the plus side for parents, the main character makes for a strong female lead who has good intentions in spite of her gift for deception, and she generally makes smart choices when faced with difficult decisions. That means you get your dishy soap with a welcome side of role-modeling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ethics of using dishonest tactics in pursuit of truth and justice. Is it OK to lie and misrepresent yourself if you're doing it for a noble cause -- or if it's part of your job? How far would you go if someone asked you to live a double life?

  • How does Deception compare to Revenge, another popular prime-time drama about lies and duplicity? Which show would you prefer to watch?

  • Who's the target audience for this type of drama -- teens or adults? How can you tell? Does it resemble any other TV dramas?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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