Finding Carter

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Finding Carter TV Poster Image
Engaging teen drama has mature themes and risky behavior.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Childhood abduction affects everyone. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carter is angry, confused, and resentful. The Wilsons are a dysfunctional family as a result of the kidnapping; the adults seem incapable of parenting at times. Carter and her friends don't always use their best judgment and engage in risky behavior. 


Carter is a childhood kidnapping victim. Mild arguments are common; some lead to pushing, shoving, and insults. A character is a police officer, and guns occasionally are visible. Comments are made about wanting to do harm to the kidnapper. 


There's some making out and strong sexual innuendo. Infidelity is a theme.


Words such as "hell," "bitch," "ass," "piss," "booty call," and "slut" audible. 


The name and artist of each song played throughout each episode are highlighted with instructions on where to download the song. The Apple logo and Subarus and other car makes are visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking (beer, hard liquor, shots) and marijuana smoking are visible. Subtle references are made to other drugs. A cast member overdoses and ends up in the hospital.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Finding Carter contains some strong themes, including child kidnapping, coping with tragedy, and infidelity. It also features lots of risky teen behavior, including underage drinking, occasional drug use (marijuana, other inhaled substances), some rebellious antics, and sexual innuendo. There's some iffy vocabulary ("bitch," "piss," and "hell") and rude gestures, and arguments occasionally lead to pushing and shoving. Police activity and guns are visible. As on most MTV shows, the songs and artists played throughout are highlighted with instructions to get the music at It's a bit much for tweens, but parents might want to consider watching with their teens and discussing some of the themes.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybriannal1 December 17, 2015

Best show ever

I love this show I watch it every Tuesday an since I don't have cable I watch it on the MTV app
Adult Written byBeckyG 4 December 2, 2015

So much possibility. .

I have watched this show since episode 1. I was a bit concerned from the onset about the casual drinking, drugs and sex but I attributed it to the fact Carter h... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bysarah2002 August 19, 2016
Teen, 17 years old Written byHayleyM 1 January 15, 2016

I love this show!

This show is an amazing show. Yes they have teens having alcohol and doing drugs. But newsflash that's how teens are portrayed in everything! All the paren... Continue reading

What's the story?

FINDING CARTER is a dramatic series about a teenager forced to restart her life and rediscover who she really is. After a minor run-in with the law, 16-year-old Carter Stevens (Kathryn Prescott) learns that the woman she thought was her mother (Milena Govich) was actually her childhood kidnapper. From one day to the next, she finds herself starting a new life with her biological family, including police officer Elizabeth (Cynthia Watros), dad and author David (Alexis Denisof), and twin sister Taylor (Anna Jacoby-Heron), who had been living in constant fear of what happened to Carter. She also meets Grant (Zac Pullam), her little brother, who was born after she was taken. While the Wilsons adjust to being reunited and cope with the continuing damage caused the abduction, Carter becomes intent on living her life the way she wants -- at the same time as protecting the woman she considers her real mom.

Is it any good?

The series, reminiscent of the novel The Face on the Milk Carton, combines the tragedy of childhood abduction with the angst and drama that teen-oriented shows are known for. But amid the improbable (and sometimes over-the-top) plot lines is a very believable story about a young woman's struggle to figure out who she is while being forced to cope with the sadness and anger she feels about her circumstances. 

As with most MTV shows of this kind, Finding Carter features lots of risky behaviors. It also sends some not-so-subtle messages about some adults' inability or unwillingness to parent. However, much of this is offered up as a way of underscoring some very real and far-reaching consequences an event such as child kidnapping has on everyone involved. It's an engaging show and very likely to appeal to older tweens and teens. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about risky behaviors shown on TV. Is it ever appropriate to feature them, even if they're being offered in the context of a story? Is there anything that can be learned from seeing these stories in the media? 

  • Child kidnapping can result from predators gathering information online. What are some ways kids can protect themselves online? What specific steps can parents take to make sure their kids are safe?

TV details

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