A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that For Life is a legal procedural inspired by the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., who became a lawyer while in prison in order to overturn his life sentence. It underscores some of the ongoing problems with the criminal justice system, ranging from wrongful convictions to a failure to invest in prison reform. There are lots of discussions about violent crimes, and arguments, shouts, and brawls are frequent. There's also some strong language ("bastard," "damn," "hell") and crude sexual references. Drug use and overdoses are discussed, and occasionally drug paraphernalia is shown. Teen pregnancy is also a theme.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Co-executive-produced by rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, FOR LIFE is a legal drama about a man who becomes a lawyer and litigates cases for inmates while trying to overturn his own life sentence. The series, which is loosely based on true events, stars Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace, a former club owner serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after being wrongfully convicted for drug trafficking. In an effort to clear his name, Wallace earns his law license behind bars, and represents fellow inmates in court. Occasionally helping him with cases is fellow inmate Jamal (Dorian Crossmond Missick). He also gets some support from prison warden Safiya Masry (Indira Varma), who wants to see more prison reform. Negotiating the system's politics is a challenge, especially since Masry's wife, Anya Harrison (Mary Stuart Masterson), is running for district attorney, and prosecutor Glen Maskins (Boris McGiver) is determined to keep him incarcerated. It doesn't help that Aaron's wife, Marie (Joy Bryant), has moved on and is now in a relationship with a former friend. But Wallace's daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris) continues to believe in him, which keeps him fighting.
Is it any good?
This compelling series is inspired by the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., who successfully had his drug trafficking conviction overturned after serving seven and a half years of a life sentence. It centers on Aaron Wallace's efforts to help inmates who are victims of the institutional flaws inherent in the criminal justice system, which requires him to work alongside the same people who are intent on keeping him locked up. It also weaves in family narratives to underscore the collateral damage caused by his wrongful incarceration. Like many police procedural TV shows, there are some predictable dramatic moments. But the show's quiet subtleties, ranging from calls to action written on papers hanging from cell walls, to Wallace wearing a small smile and a prison uniform while handcuffed to a bus seat after successfully winning a trial, highlight the difficult and dangerous metaphorical tightrope that he walks every day. These are the details that make For Life worth watching, regardless of how frustrated the story may make you feel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way For Life portrays the criminal justice system. Do you think the problems associated with wrongful convictions and prison reform are overdramatized for entertainment purposes? Or is there truth in what is being shown?
When a TV show or movie is based on a true story, what makes it a work of fiction? Is it the changes made to adapt the narrative for a TV or movie format? Or is the screen version simply "borrowing" some true facts in order to tell a more interesting story?
Who is Isaac Wright Jr.? What makes his story so compelling? How does his journey compare with that of the character of Aaron Wallace?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love crime dramas
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.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch