Judging Amy

TV review by
Lucy Maher, Common Sense Media
Judging Amy TV Poster Image
Law & Order meets The Waltons.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show offers lots of positive messages: Always do the right thing, respect others, don't make assumptions, and always put family first. Amy's job as a family court judge means that she deals with cases of abuse and neglect, but she does her best to deal with these problems fairly and to the benefit of all concerned.


Child abuse and neglect is discussed, but rarely shown.


Some dating and sexual relationships between adults, but drama is the focus, not titillation.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some of the cases that family court judge Amy Gray presides over might upset young or sensitive viewers -- particularly those that deal with sexual abuse, neglect, and battles between foster and birth parents. But overall, this is a much more family-friendly hour than most other legal-centric dramas on TV.

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What's the story?

In JUDGING AMY, Amy Brenneman stars as Amy Gray, a divorced single mother to Lauren (Karle Warren) who leaves her job in New York City to become a family court judge in Hartford, Connecticut. She and her child live with Amy's outspoken mother, Maxine (Tyne Daley), who presides over the family as Amy reconnects with her brothers Vincent (Dan Futterman), and Peter (Marcus Giamatti), and sister-in-law Gillian (Jessica Tuck). Amy also finds herself managing the personalities of her co-workers, including her court services officer, Bruce (Richard T. Jones), and court clerk-turned-lawyer, Donna Kozlowski (Jillian Armenante). Judging Amy, which is based on the life story of Brenneman's real-life mother, a judge who was one of the first women to graduate from Harvard, explores both Amy and Maxine's personal relationships and Amy's career cases, which almost always involves making difficult decisions regarding kids' welfare.

Is it any good?

In an era of bawdy, sensationalistic reality shows, Judging Amy gives viewers an hour of solid family drama. Parents will feel good letting older tweens and teens tune in to a show that has positive messages about respect and doing good, and viewers of all ages will likely be fascinated by the machinations of the family court. Some of Amy's cases, however, might be upsetting for sensitive or younger viewers, particularly those that involve neglect or abuse.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the law sometimes has to intervene in a family's personal life. What defines neglect? Why do some parents put their kids in harm's way? What is the role of a foster family?

TV details

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