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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, like The X-Files, this sci-fi/action show combines conspiracy theories and sometimes-violent thrills. There are plenty of explosions, gunfights, and dead bodies (some of which are pretty gruesome to look at), as well as a bit of suggestive content (some scenes show the female lead wearing very little) and drug experimentation. The show promotes some unusual scientific theories, including interdimensional plots, dangerous biological weapons, advanced cybernetics, and much more. Most of these are clearly impossible, a few seem quite plausible, and some fall somewhere in between, which could have teens wondering where to draw the line between hard science and make-believe.
What's the story?
FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and the FRINGE team started off investigating a dark, international conspiracy that featured an enormously powerful technology corporation, a long-running dispute over secret paranormal research, and an honest-to-goodness mad scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble). As they dug deeper, Bishop's craziest ideas turned out be true, revealing that the plot stretched all the way into a parallel universe. The resolution of that plot has long-lasting impact on all of the characters. Also along for the ride is Dr. Bishop's son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), who's equal parts genius and rogue and has some major secrets of his own.
Is it any good?
J.J. Abrams excels at delivering this kind of taut, complex drama, filled with conspiracies, secret projects, and hard-to-believe scientific discoveries. The man behind Alias and Lost manages to please fans of smart sci-fi shows with Fringe, another engrossing, thrilling drama. Mad scientist Walter is an especially appealing character, the likes of which haven't been seen on television before -- he's happy to combine LSD visions, playful banter about dinosaurs, and impossibly complex theories about parallel universes.
The series' one notable flaw is really the same issue with Abrams' past hits. Fans are happy to ride along to see where he's going, but as the story has evolved, it's also become increasingly difficult to for new fans to jump aboard. Fringe is a complex and entertaining series, but there's a lot that won't make sense to people who haven't done their homework.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of shows like this one. Are theories like the ones explored here realistic? Does that matter? Is it fun to watch a show like this one precisely because it's unrealistic? Why do you think so many movies and TV shows focus on massive conspiracy theories?
Talk about the drug use in this show. Is it presented in a positive or negative light? Teens: What's your reaction to the use of drugs in the show? Do you feel any differently about drug use after watching?
For kids who love thrills and sci-fi
Our editors recommend
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.