Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

Designated Survivor

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Tense, dramatic series explores a political nightmare.

TV ABC Drama 2016
Designated Survivor Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 76 parent reviews

age 18+

Seasons 1-2 are great

Season 1 was great all around with an especially great storyline, five stars. Season 2 got a little boring, but still a clean family friendly show. Season 3 it was taken over by Netflix and language and sexuality increases. We stopped watching part way through episode 3 of season 3 where there was a sex scene out of nowhere.
age 18+

Too much cursing

I’m deeply distressed that NETFLIX felt that a show was edgier or better written by cursing. I’m not a prude, just a very concerned parent.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (76 ):
Kids say (33 ):

Stuffed -- maybe overstuffed -- with dramatic plot points, this political series has plenty of potential and will appeal to fans of 24 and The West Wing. Other viewers' opinions of this show will depend upon their tolerance/love of scenes in which characters sit in a room having tense conversations about treason and speech-writing. Certainly the show's central premise has zing: After Kirkman learns he's to be thrust into the national spotlight, he's dragged to the White House and into a press conference within an hour. The camera slows down, voices echo. It's a nightmarish place to be, one viewers can easily imagine.

Parents who are political buffs may enjoy watching Designated Survivor with teens, as plot twists about terrorism and plotting officials may spark conversations about the ways in which our government operates; a storyline revolving around an FBI agent (Maggie Q) investigating the attack may inspire not-as-comfortable conversations about terrorism. And a subplot on the Kirkhams' teen son, Leo (Tanner Buchanan), who sells something in little bags at D.C. clubs, may make both parents and teens a wee bit uncomfortable.

TV Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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