TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Explained TV Poster Image
Uneven, edgy docu series explores mature themes.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There’s a wide range of issues explored, but some of the explanations offered suggest some bias. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Leaders, good, bad, and notorious are discussed. Interviews feature scholars, writers, and people who are experts in the subject at hand.


Some episodes discuss violent events, ranging from hangings to bloody activities relating to piracy and the diamond trade, to mass murders and mass suicides. Archive footage sometimes features bloody images and dead bodies. 


Some episodes discuss sexual issues, or describe explicit events. Nudity is sometimes visible. All of this is offered in an informative context. 


Sometimes curses are audible or visible in texts or message boards. 


Organizations, film and television images, Disney characters, etc. are featured based on the topic. Occasionally the use of them for marketing purposes is discussed. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The use of drugs, ranging from the sale, use, and abuse of them, are discussed. Archive footage of syringes and pills at a mass suicide is shown.  

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Explained is a documentary series about a wide variety of often complicated subjects. Some episodes contain more mature content than others, including discussions about sexual activity and violent events like abuse and mass suicides. There’s some cursing, and drugs use is sometimes a topic of discussion. Archive footage sometimes contains disturbing interviews and very graphic images (dead bodies, drug paraphernalia, etc.). Brands are sometimes discussed, but in an informative context. 

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User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written bybraedvon April 28, 2020

Explained (TV-14 - DLSV)

Explained is an amazing show to inform mature teens and adults about interesting topics. Though, some topics can get a bit iffy. Suggestive dialogue and talk ab... Continue reading

What's the story?

EXPLAINED is a documentary series that explores some of today’s biggest questions. Each approximately 30-minute episode uses interviews and archive footage to break down the history and development of political, economic, social, and scientific topics. From explaining the racial wealth gap in the United States with the help of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, to understanding the growth of casual dressing and leisure fashion by talking to actress and entrepreneur Kate Hudson, it addresses a range of contemporary issues in modern-day society. 

Is it any good?

This uneven series delivers information with an edge that's sometimes more entertaining than newsworthy. It offers explanations of a wide range of topics based on journalistic investigation, but the stories about more complex subjects can be superficial. Meanwhile, some of the more politically charged issues are presented with a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) bias. The inclusion of graphic footage can feel sensational as well. Those looking for an in-depth documentary series won’t find it here, but Explained will satisfy if you’re looking for some brief but illuminating insight into current events and popular culture. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the producers of Explained are trying to inform audiences, or entertaining them. How does the series break down a complex topic in under 40 minutes? Are the explanations thorough? Accurate? How can you tell?

  • What is the purpose of including graphic content in a documentary? What kind of impact can that content have on viewers? 


TV details

  • Premiere date: May 23, 2018
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: April 30, 2020

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