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 this compelling drama about a lawman in rural Kentucky involves mature themes that are best for adults and older teens. Along with plenty of gunplay, including death by gunfire, the main character straddles a moral line between protecting people's civil rights and punishing bad guys. A primary narrative involves a gang of white supremacists. There’s plenty of unbleeped swearing -- including racially charged language -- and a good deal of drinking.
What's the story?
After a questionable encounter leaves a suspect dead, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is transferred from cushy Miami to a small East Kentucky outpost, not far from the hometown he left behind years ago. He quickly reconnects with old flames and old friends, including Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), now the head of a white-supremacist gang, ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea), and Ava (Joelle Carter), the high school cheerleader he never pursued but always wanted. As Raylan settles into his new assignment, it becomes clear that Boyd is at the center of a string of mysterious incidents.
Is it any good?
JUSTIFIED makes its intentions clear from the first scene. This compelling drama is an old-fashioned Western. Yes, it takes place today, but just look at Raylan: He wears a Stetson and cowboy boots and packs a big pistol on his hip. And that questionable incident? Seems he gave a known bad guy 24 hours to get out of town. When time's up, Raylan tracks him down, gun at the ready. The meaning is clear: The lawman has challenged the criminal to a gunfight, and though the villain draws first, the marshal draws faster -- technically, the killing was justified, Raylan insists.
Transferred to rural Kentucky coal country, Raylan brings the same swaggering attitude and quiet, steely reserve. There’s a new sheriff in town -- well, deputy marshal. The show is based on a book by famed novelist Elmore Leonard, who also serves as a producer and makes sure the scripts are always entertaining and unpredictable. Olyphant is wonderful as an old-school lawman who won’t draw his weapon unless he plans to shoot to kill, because that’s the whole purpose of a gun. It’s worth tuning in just to hear him calmly deliver this line to a skittery punk with a shotgun, who promptly drops the gun and runs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Raylan’s idea of dispensing justice. Do you think it’s OK for him to shoot the bad guys, even if they don’t pose an immediate threat?
How does this show, set in the present, resemble a classic Western? Does Raylan ever seem out of place in modern times, when one man is not permitted to dole out justice on his own?
For kids who love crime drama
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.