TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Justified TV Poster Image
Lawman shoots first in racially charged, complex drama.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series takes place in the present, but plays like an old Western, with a strong-silent lawman enforcing frontier justice with his trusty handgun. While Raylan certainly makes it clear that crime, and bad manners, will not be tolerated, he also seems like an anachronism in the modern day when due process is considered a critical part of the justice system.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Law-and-order sometimes takes a backseat to Raylan’s sense of justice; if he thinks the world would be better off without a bad guy, he just might find a way to eliminate him and make his choice seem justified. He’s not always wrong, but it’s pretty hard to justify his vigilante act.


Plenty of gunfire. The main character is a lawman who sometimes seeks reasons to draw, and use, his sidearm. Several people get shot – some are wounded, others are killed, and most of the attacks are shown. The villains sometimes use heavy weapons, such as a rocket launcher.


Some seasons are mostly flirting and suggestive comments while other seasons include some sex scenes between adults.


Plenty of swearing, including lots of unbleeped uses of “s--t” and its variations, such as “horses--t,” “s--tstorms,” and more. The villains are racist white supremacists who often use highly inflammatory terms.


A few mentions of well-known brands, such as RC Cola and Lysol.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plenty of drinking. People socialize in bars, drink shots together at home, and sometimes get pretty drunk. Some smoking and discussion of drugs/drug dealing.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written byMrs. W December 21, 2010
Well written, well acted, for adults and mature older teens only: a thoughtful exposition of how life is not black and white but nearly infinite shades of gray,... Continue reading
Adult Written byshawnao June 6, 2015

Episode 10 Season 1

Parents need to know that in Episode 10 Season 1 there is a strip club scene and topless woman are clearly visible in the scene.
Teen, 15 years old Written byhonestreviewer123 June 19, 2020

Review up to Season 1: Cool drama that teens can handle

Not too much mature content in season 1 - generally a moderate level of violence (varies from episode to episode). Sexual content is kept to a minimum - there a... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMalucodemez September 30, 2010

Great for older teenagers.

I love this show. Its well written, and is always really entertaining.

Although at first glance, it may not seem to have any positive messages, season 1 depict... Continue reading

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love crime drama

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