For Life

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
For Life TV Poster Image
Compelling legal drama has violence, drugs, mature themes.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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

Seeking justice is central to the show. Themes range from freeing the wrongfully convicted to shedding light on the problems in the penal and legal systems. Friendship and parenthood are also themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aaron Wallace is smart and determined, exhibiting courage and perseverance throughout his ordeal. Lots of people have broken the law, but many are serving longer sentences than warranted, or serving time for things they did not commit. Administrators of legal and penal systems are often focused on political ramifications of having their convictions overturned.

Violence

Violent crimes, ranging from sexual assaults to murders, are frequently discussed, but in limited detail. People on both sides of prison bars frequently threaten and yell. Screaming and brawling is commonplace in prison. Suicide is referenced. 

Sex

Some mild innuendo. Crude sexual references, like "banging." Teen pregnancy is a theme.  

Language

Words like "bastard," "damn," "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drinking and drug use, including crystal meth, Oxycontin. Syringes are visible, people are shown under the influence, and overdosing is discussed. Cigarette smoking is also shown. 

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFather92828 November 12, 2020
Adult Written byBoxtime April 25, 2020

Outstanding television

Storyline as deep as the ocean, with complexities and multistream stories running simultaneously, very well-written & resourced, absolutely true to life
Teen, 14 years old Written byLyna08 March 19, 2020

Something Every teen needs to wach

I think this is a show that every teen needs to watch not only because it shows how a black man was accused of something he didn't do but because he found... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

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.

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