Durham County TV Poster Image

Durham County



Creepy drama about families, friendship, murderers, lies.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There’s not a lot of honest communication in this series, and everybody has secrets -- including a husband who’s hiding an affair, another man who might be a serial killer, a teenage daughter who doesn’t want to reveal that she’s being harassed at school, and a murdered teacher with a secret lover. Even a cancer survivor takes care to wear a wig to disguise the impact of her treatment.

Positive role models

The two main characters are both hiding terrible secrets, and the effort of maintaining their lies takes a toll on their families.


Some scenes feature sudden and intense violence, including brutal murders. Some of the attacks are shown; others are implied but not shown. A husband controls his wife using both emotional abuse and sometimes physical intimidation. Several scenes seem to suggest imminent bloodshed and menace.


Couples discuss having sex, and some near-nudity is visible in some episodes. Some talk about sex between teens.


A fair amount of swearing, including “crap,” “goddamn,” “butt,” “ass,” “bastard,” “prick,” "balls,” and “ratshit.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some drinking by adults at bars and parties, and a few characters sometimes appear a little drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this creepy thriller creates a palpable sense of menace and gloom. One of the two main characters may be a serial killer; the other is a detective investigating the murders. Both are hiding dark secrets, and their combustible connection is exacerbated by the many lies that both of them tell to their families, friends, and co-workers. Some scenes include intense violence; there's also plenty of swearing and some references to sex. Young kids and tweens might be spooked by the show, but older teens and adults could be entertained by the dark atmosphere.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

After his partner is murdered, police detective Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon) moves back to his hometown in suburban DURHAM COUNTY. He’s looking for a quiet place to raise his kids and help his wife (Helene Joy) recover from cancer, but he's stunned to discover that his new neighbor, Ray Prager (Justin Louis), is a childhood rival who may be hiding a dark secret. Sweeney is quickly assigned to a murder investigation and realizes that he has a secret connection to the victim. As he digs deeper, he finds that the evidence points to Prager ... but his own hidden link to the case may also make Sweeney a suspect.

Is it any good?


Durham County has plenty of secrets beneath its well-manicured lawns. This enjoyable Canadian production isn't really a mystery, since the viewers know who the villain is from the start. Instead, it’s more of a cat-and-mouse thriller, as Prager and Sweeney try to keep their personal connections to the crime hidden while implicating each other. The fun of the show is watching the two men gradually come unraveled as the police zero in on the killer -- and wondering how far each will go to protect themselves and their secrets.

The show creates an atmosphere of gloom and menace. Sweeney’s teenage daughter likes to build crime scene dioramas, and his younger daughter likes to wear an unsettling mask for fun. There’s a killer -- or maybe two -- running around town and a gang of predatory potential rapists in the high school. And what’s the deal with the constant power plant imagery? Some of this helps boost the tension, but some seems unnecessary and sometimes distracts from what's otherwise a satisfying drama about the lengths that men will go to justify their choices to themselves.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the main characters' lives affect the way they interact with their families and friends. Is it difficult to maintain a lie? How does telling one lie sometimes force people to tell another? Have you ever tried to hide something, only to realize how difficult it is to keep the story going?

  • The "crazed murderer" is a common character in movies and TV series. How does the family man/psychopath in this show compare to the typical portrayal of this kind of character? Which do you think is closer to reality?

TV details

Premiere date:September 7, 2009
Cast:Helene Joy, Hugh Dillon, Justin Louis
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Durham County was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Thoughtful, mature cop show...with lots of blood.
  • Morally ambiguous show is all about crime, iffy choices.
  • Moody conspiracy drama is creepy, complex, and masterful.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?
Thanks – we appreciate your feedback!