Finding Carter TV Poster Image

Finding Carter

Engaging teen drama has mature themes and risky behavior.
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2014

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Childhood abduction affects everyone. 

Positive role models

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. 

Violence

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. 

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism

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.

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 MTV.com. It's a bit much for tweens, but parents might want to consider watching with their teens and discussing some of the themes.  

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?

QUALITY

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. 

Families can talk 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

Premiere date:July 8, 2014
Cast:Kathryn Prescott, Cynthia Watros, Alexis Denisof
Network:MTV
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Finding Carter 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.

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 Ratings

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate.

Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

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

Teen, 14 years old Written bypepperoots August 31, 2014
MTV's newest TV show is engaging but mature. if you don't mind themes like, child abduction, check it out!!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byGodAnubis12 August 31, 2014

Ages 14- maybe 13- and up

Its a great show concept, but just some things you really should watch out for. Teenagers drink (get high) and do drugs, but there are consequences some of the time for these actions. There is also some teen sex between a few characters, but it is not really shown... (except for this one scene in which you could see the shoulders, but not more, of the two characters doing it). This show isnt really okay for tweens-- I would say too many drugs and make-outs. I think that it is okay with teens, and that you can even use it as an example of what kids shouldnt do, as it could end them up in a bad position. Please make sure your teen is mature though if they are going to watch it alone, because there are some iffy topics which might lead them to believe this is the "norm", but honestly its the opposite! I hope I helped!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byNeveralone4 January 20, 2015

Its a Great show!

Finding Carter to me was interesting from the beginning!From where it all started to where it left off.I know its very unlikely for something like this to happen but the way they put this it all plays out.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking