Defending Jacob

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Defending Jacob TV Poster Image
Book-based crime drama has violence, cursing.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Determining whether a son is innocent or guilty is potentially less important than protecting your family above all else in this complicated drama. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Laurie and Andy are good parents. Andy’s behavior isn’t always ethical, but he does what he does to protect his son any way possible. 


The stabbing death of a teenager leads to speculation that Jacob Barber is guilty of the crime. The bloody dead body of the victim is visible. A found knife is central to the plot. An alleged suicide occurs. 


Some sexual innuendo, including crude references. Discussion of prostitution and sexual abuse. 


Curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are used frequently. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking is sometimes visible. 

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysow0781 June 15, 2020


I feel like this show touched on subjects that most parent don't want to address in 2020. It shows how passive and out of tune some parents are to their... Continue reading
Adult Written byKaren J June 14, 2020

Great for kids 13 and over

I have a 13 year old daughter who loved this series and so did my husband and I. It has an interesting and gripping story line and I would recommend to other pa... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byevieeeeeeee April 29, 2020

Really interesting show

I’ve been watching this with my family (including my 11 year old sister) and we all really enjoy it.

The show is based around murder of course, but so far the... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycutwittleladybug May 9, 2020

a most watch!

i mean as you all should know the show is about a crime scene and this student boy got involved in it and yada yada. this has a lot of f-bombs and well on the f... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

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