A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
It uses witness details and archive footage to offer new details about the death of John Lennon and the incarceration of his killer. The inequities within the criminal justice system as it relates to mental health is discussed.
Positive Role Models
John Lennon is referred to as a music genius and peace activist. The U.S. government considered him a danger to the country at one time.
Most of the cast is male, but a few women central to the story are featured. One witness is Black. Yoko Ono is Japanese.
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Violence & Scariness
There are graphic descriptions of the shooting and attempts to keep John Lennon alive. Images of the crime bloody crime scene, and of John Lennon's bloody glasses are shown. Footage of the shooting of Ronald Reagan is also featured. Child abuse is discussed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A famous picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in a naked embrace is featured (no private parts are shown)
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Strong words are sometimes audible during witness interviews and other recorded moments.
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Products & Purchases
John Lennon and Beatle songs are audible, but in context. A lot of negative focus on the book The Catcher in the Rye and how it may have influenced Mark David Chapman.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some witnesses are shown drinking at a bar. Smoking is sometimes visible.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial is a docuseries that offers details about what happened on the day singer John Lennon was killed in 1980, and what subsequently happened to his killer. It contains archive footage of the crime scene and interviews that offer disturbing details about the shooting and the man who pulled the trigger. There's occasional strong language, and smoking is sometimes visible. Mental illness is a major theme. Music performed by The Beatles and by Lennon is also featured, and a famous photo shows Lennon and Yoko Ono in an intimate embrace is shown, but no private parts are shown.
Is It Any Good?
The disturbing true crime series offers voyeuristic details about the hours leading up to John Lennon's murder, and the reasons why his killer's case never went to trial. While it offers some limited discussion of Lennon's music career and work as a peace activist, most of the documentary revolves around the investigation into Mark David Chapman, and the criminal justice system's efforts to understand his logic for doing what he did and why. These conversations center on the murderer's history of mental illness, which his former lawyers claim was not taken seriously enough. These allegations are reinforced by witness accounts and audio recordings of the defendant while he was being prepared for court, and by the comparisons made between his journey and that of John Hinckley Jr., who was confined to a psychiatric hospital for treatment for 35 years after publicly shooting President Reagan in 1981. It's this type of information that makes the docuseries interesting in a tabloid-ish sort of way. But no doubt that John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial will also succeed at stirring up memories among viewers old enough to remember where they were when they heard that John Lennon had died.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.