Lifeline

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Lifeline TV Poster Image
Intriguing, dark sci-fi series has language, death.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Lifeline is in the life-saving business, but viewers will quickly see that their methods are not always humane, and the agency has complex motivations. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Conner is a hard-hearted businessman. When a Lifeline subscriber is saved from death yet her companion dies, she asks why Conner didn't try to save him. "He's not my client," he replies. Haley disagrees, and tries to save the lives of non-clients, too -- sometimes putting herself in danger. 

Violence

The show revolves around an agency that rescues clients from death in the nick of time but doesn't always succeed. People are shot, crushed by an elevator, punched in the face; we see blood and people falling to the ground and a disembodied arm with blood trickling down a woman's hand. In one particularly disturbing scene, a young girl's father is hit by a car right in front of her; she leans over his bloody body and screams "Dad! Dad!" before shadowy agents appear to "wipe" her memory with a big needle to the neck. Expect many near misses as Lifeline clients are saved from terrible accidents. A man punches a woman in the face after calling her a "bitch" (and is then subdued by the woman). 

Sex

Expect kissing, including between characters in bed just wearing underwear. 

Language

Cursing and other rough language includes "a--hole," "hell," "s--t," "pr--k"; a man calls a woman "bitch" twice before punching her in the nose (she then knocks him unconscious). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults occasionally have wine with dinner or at social occasions; a dad tells his daughter he's "clean." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lifeline is a sci-fi show about an agency that rescues its clients from death. Those deaths provide the show with its violent content. The Lifeline agents aren't always successful, and characters are suddenly crushed by an elevator or shot, their limbs are suddenly torn off, and so forth -- there are also lots of near-misses in which people are almost killed by heavy, sharp, and/or fast-moving things. In one particularly disturbing scene, a young girl's father is hit by a car right in front of her; she leans over his bloody body and screams "Dad! Dad!" before shadowy agents appear to "wipe" her memory with a big needle to the neck. Characters kiss in bed in their underwear and make references to sex; adults also have wine with dinner or at social occasions. Language includes "a--hole," "hell," "s--t," "bitch," and "pr--k." 

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What's the story?

Conner Hooks (Zach Gilford) is an insurance agent -- but not like one you've ever heard of before. He and his wife, Haley (Amanda Crew), both work for the mysterious LIFELINE, run by the equally unfathomable Nathan (Usman Ally). Nathan invented an implant that allows Lifeline to monitor a person's vitals -- 33 days in the future. If Lifeline's systems detect that a client has been killed, it sends an agent -- like Conner or Haley -- forward through time to the exact moment and location that the client will die, where they have only moments to avert fate. But when a mission goes very wrong, Conner finds out that Lifeline's plans go far beyond just protecting its clients. He must jump through time and figure out some way to avert disaster. 

Is it any good?

Smart, thoughtful, and seeded with compelling ideas about time travel, this show gives off a Black Mirror or Twilight Zone vibe, even though it's clearly a lower-budget affair. There aren't many actors, and there aren't many sets; most of the action takes place in living rooms and offices. Yet the smart plotting and brisk pacing make the action compelling enough that you'll quickly forget all that. Lifeline wins points by jumping right into the action. Viewers will quickly catch on, and they're expected to -- a refreshing approach when all too many sci-fi shows belabor their points.

The notion that time travel only works in one direction -- meaning that if mistakes are made, no one can go back to fix them -- and that agents who make frequent month-plus time jumps will miss out on a lot of life adds a lot of juice to the narrative, alerting viewers that here is a relatively rare beast: a sci-fi show with a lot of thought put into the details. Despite the cheap sets and cruddy special effects, this show intrigues, and it's worth a look -- especially for sci-fi fans. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about Lifeline's approach to time travel. Usually people who can travel through time can go backward and forward. How does only being able to advance forward change this show? 

  • Is this show a high- or low-budget show? How can you tell? What qualities does this show have that bring you to that conclusion? What is most expensive when it comes to filming: locations? Actors? Sets? 

TV details

For kids who love sci-fi stuff

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