First Week In

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
First Week In TV Poster Image
Lots of swearing and strong themes in jail docuseries.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There's an underlying message that getting in trouble with the law is a negative experience. The show offers a voyeuristic look at the process.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The people featured on the show are innocent until proven guilty, but a few admit to acting inappropriately.


Inmates are sometimes shown resisting officers; restrained inmates are sometimes wrestled to the ground or maced. Some of the charges discussed include violent incidents, sexual assault, and prostitution.


Newly processed inmates are shown stripping off their clothes to change into jail attire, but no nudity is shown.


Words like "hell," "ass," "bitch," and "damn" are frequently audible; stronger curses are bleeped. Obscene hand gestures are blurred.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some of those incarcerated are charged with drug-related crimes. Some inmates are drug addicts; a few note how drugs led them to make poor choices and criminal activity.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series, which follows people who have been arrested as they go to jail, is best left to older viewers. It contains some strong language ("piss," "bitch"; "s--t," "f--k"  are bleeped), some aggressive behaviors, and discussions of criminal charges like prostitution, kidnapping, selling drugs, and sexual assault.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

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

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

What's the story?

FIRST WEEK IN is a reality documentary series that profiles individuals who have been arrested for the first time and follows them during the first seven days of their incarceration. Cameras follow specific individuals who have been taken into custody at various county jails and detention centers around the country and charged with crimes ranging from pandering and selling drugs to domestic violence and sexual assault. After being processed, each inmate copes with their circumstances differently, whether it be desperately attempting to bail themselves out, contemplating their lives, or engaging in behaviors that result in disciplinary action. Correctional officers offer some thoughts about the inmates circumstances, as well as some explanations about the day-to-day operations of the institution. At the end of each episode, limited information is given about the fate of each person profiled.

Is it any good?

The series offers a voyeuristic look at what happens to individuals who are arrested once they are taken into custody, and the various challenges they may face once they are inside. Because of its focus on people who have never been arrested before, it also highlights some of the specific problems they may have adjusting to the system.

The approach is non-judgmental, but it is often hard to remember that these folks are innocent until proven guilty thanks to some of their own comments and behaviors. Nonetheless, it does a good job showing viewers how unpleasant being incarcerated can be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the experience of watching people go through a difficult time. What is the appeal of a show like this? Why do people agree to participate in a show like this?

  • Do you think reality TV shows like this one will help prevent people from making poor choices? Does this show glamorize the incarceration process at all?

  • Do you assume the inmates are guilty because they are in jail? Or are you able to maintain the sense that they might be innocent?

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 9, 2012
  • Network: Discovery Channel
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality shows

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

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

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate