TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Frontline TV Poster Image
Hard-hitting news documentaries for teens and up.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series is intended to provide thorough coverage of all aspects of a particular issue. Many of the stories focus on the plight of the underserved, as well as bringing attention to controversial issues of our era -- including AIDS, abortion, and sexism. Multiple points of view are presented.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The reporters featured on the show are some of the best in the business and are seen asking tough questions and getting to the bottom of important stories. But they're not the focus of the stories. Instead, viewers will see examples of people who have done things both very wrong, and very right.


Some episodes discuss violent events, such as war, terrorism, and rebellion. The accompanying images can be harrowing, but there's no active violence, per se.


Some of the installments discuss issues of a sexual nature (sex-slave trade, etc.). These discussions are presented as informational content.


Occasional mild language, such as "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products are sometimes visible as part of the documentation of events. Addiction and drug/alcohol-related deaths are sometimes discussed. Use of legal and illegal narcotics, such as treatments for AIDS and cancer, are also talked about.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this news documentary series provides thoughtful, provocative insight on current events as a way of raising public awareness of contemporary issues. While the series overall is educational, some installments include in-depth interviews and video footage that may be too strong for younger viewers. (Of course, chances are that most kids -- including plenty of teens -- won't really be clamoring to see a news-focused series anyway.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byxxxrodrigoxxx July 9, 2019

If your kid wants to watch this, give them a medal!

It is the rare kid that would willingly watch an investigative journalism program documenting current affairs like Frontline. The show is heavy on politics and... Continue reading
Adult Written byJeffrey Asher April 24, 2019

Invisible Parent

All comments on abortion omit the potential father. He is the invisible parent. He could offer to raise his child unto adulthood. I raised my daughter on my ow... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySynchronicity March 18, 2009

Just like any other PBS late-night series: excellent!

Into current events? Well, this show is for you. Frontline is basically a newsmagazine that covers diverse topics. A few: the media industry and teenagers, the... Continue reading

What's the story?

FRONTLINE is a hard-hitting, magazine-style documentary news series that looks at contemporary, often-controversial issues, focusing on the people who work on the frontlines of the major events of our time. Considered PBS' flagship public affairs series for more than 20 years, Frontline follows the time-honored tradition of broadcast news by telling stories that objectively explore present-day topics in the United States and abroad. Sept. 11, the war in Iraq, the global politics of AIDS, and the controversies surrounding abortion are just a few of the many issues that the program has delved into.

Is it any good?

The winner of many major journalism awards -- including a Peabody for excellence in TV broadcasting -- Frontline stands out among other prime-time programs of this genre thanks to its in-depth research, solid reporting, and strong narrative. As a result of the producers' commitment to journalistic excellence, the series offers unflinching examinations of different, often-conflicting viewpoints, allowing viewers to experience for themselves the complexity of many of life's multifaceted events.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about current events. How do these events impact the way we look at the world? Who are the people involved in these events, and what are their roles? What specific issues do you feel strongly about? Families can also talk about the differences between broadcast news and public affairs documentaries. What do documentaries offer that news stories don't or can't? If you were asked to make a documentary about an important issue, what would it be about? Who would you interview? Parents can find more discussion topics in Frontline's Teacher Center.

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 17, 1983
  • Cast: Will Lyman
  • Network: PBS
  • Genre: Educational
  • TV rating: NR
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: April 16, 2021

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