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 Defending Jacob is an adaptation of a popular novel about the violent death of a teen, and the efforts of a father to protect his son from going to prison for the crime. The ethical dilemma surrounding the obligation of parents to follow the law versus protecting their child at all costs is the central issue addressed in this dark drama. It contains graphic images of a dead body with bloody wounds, and conversations about sexual abuse. Curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are used frequently. Drinking is occasionally shown.
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What's the story?
Based on the book by William Landay of the same title, DEFENDING JACOB tells the story of a state prosecutor who unexpectedly finds himself doing everything he can to defend his family. District Attorney Andy Barber (Chris Evans) lives an idyllic life in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife Laurie, (Michelle Dockery) and Jacob (Jaeden Martell), their 14-year old son. But when Jacob stands accused of stabbing a classmate to death, Andy finds himself caught between the ethical decisions he must make as a state attorney, and doing everything he can to protect his son. As events unfold, Andy’s former colleague, D.A. Neal Loguidice (Pablo Schreiber) builds a strong case against Jacob, and even Laurie begins to question Jacob’s innocence, especially since Andy’s own father (played by J.K. Simmons) is in prison for murder. But Andy remains unwavering in his belief that his son has done nothing wrong.
Is it any good?
This dark crime series combines family drama with a legal procedural as the Barbers navigate their son’s murder trial to the best of their ability. Told as a series of flashbacks from Andy Barber’s point of view, it mainly relies on the conversations between Andy and Laurie to establish the feelings of confusion, frustration, and doubts they have about their son. These exchanges push the story along, but thanks to the attempts to tell it over eight long episodes, the overall story feels slow and overstretched. As a result, dramatic tension and elements of suspense are diluted. But Defending Jacob offers a solid plot, and provides some some entertainment if you have the patience to stay with it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the reasons Jacob is arrested for allegedly committing a murder. What role does social media play in the case? Why do people question if he is capable of committing such a violent crime?
Should Andy choose thinking and acting like a prosecuting attorney over protecting his son in Defending Jacob? Why? Do you think he goes too far to protect his family?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love drama
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.
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