TV review by
Matt Cabral, Common Sense Media
Intelligence TV Poster Image
Despite promise and great cast, just another office sitcom.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The Government Communication Headquarter's employees protect the country by fighting cyberterrorism. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Features a diverse cast of characters, reflecting different ethnicities and genders in the workplace. 


Includes some physical, slapstick comedy. 


Many of the series' jokes are of a sexual nature, including one about nude photos. 


"F--k" and "s--t" frequently used. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alcohol in a pub, and reference smoking marijuana. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Intelligence is a workplace comedy series starring David Schwimmer (Friends) set at a British intelligence agency. Much of its humor is of a mature, sometimes sexual nature, including its opening joke involving a memory stick containing a photo of a vagina. Profanity is also used frequently, with the words "ass," "bitch," "s--t," and "f--k." Characters are also made fun of for their ethnicity and physical appearance. Serious topics, such as terrorism and 9/11, are referenced, and sometimes played for laughs. Violence is limited to scenes of physical, slapstick comedy.

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What's the story?

Created by English comedian Nick Mohammed, INTELLIGENCE is about Jerry Bernstein (David Schwimmer), a brash National Security Agency employee sent to work as a liaison in Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The series' story is focused on the awkward, fledgling friendship between arrogant American Bernstein and Mohammed's clueless cryptoanalyst, Joseph Harries. When not showcasing the comedic talents of its co-stars, Intelligence mines laughs from a diverse supporting cast of quirky, colorful GCHQ employees.

Is it any good?

This series attempts to put a fresh spin on the often formulaic workplace comedy, but it falls short of its potential. Longtime Friends fans might have some trouble swallowing Schwimmer as an arrogant, mean-spirited NSA employee, but there's no denying the strength of his performance: He's incredibly unlikable! Creator and co-star Nick Mohammed is equally effective as the comedic foil and Bernstein's best friend wannabe.

On top of the pair's excellent chemistry, Intelligence benefits from a bit of British charm, as well as an office setting that's not typically played for laughs. Sadly, the comedic potential of these latter two elements isn't fully realized. The writing is almost entirely focused on Bernstein's personality clashing with those of his more reserved co-workers, rarely touching on the likely cultural conflicts that would also come from an ugly American working across the pond. Similarly, while the workplace provides its share of code-cracking jokes, it mostly serves as just another cubicle-filled backdrop. The supporting cast is fantastic -- often delivering some of the series' biggest laughs -- but they're also underserved and underdeveloped, existing primarily as reactionary fodder to Bernstein's shenanigans. Intelligence features interesting characters, some clever writing, and even the occasional laugh-out-loud moment, but these elements never coalesce to deliver much more than another one-note workplace comedy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of cyberterrorism. What is cyberterrorism? How is it different from other forms of terrorism? What sort of threats and dangers does it pose to internet users?

  • What personality flaws does Jerry Bernstein exhibit? Why does he treat other characters with disrespect? What other comedies can you think of that have similar not-so-nice characters?

  • How does Intelligence portray the GCHQ employees? Are they responsible, hard workers? Do they work as a team?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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