Lights Out

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Lights Out TV Poster Image
Mature drama plods along like an old-school champ.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family is a constant theme -- whether in terms of Lights staying loyal to his father and brother or providing for his wife and daughters. But a subtle message emerges that it's OK to withhold the truth from those you love and act against their wishes if you believe that what you're doing is your only option. Illegal actions don't always have negative consequences either.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character loves his wife and daughters and has an admirable set of principles at heart, but providing for his family sometimes means that he must lie to police or get involved in illegal activities to make money. Some minor characters are corrupt and occasionally ruthless.


The main character makes his living as a fighter, so there's violence of some sort in every episode. Minimal blood, but also cuts, bruises, and broken bones, in addition to some shootings and beatings outside the ring.


Some strong simulated sex (in bed, in the ring, on a copier), but no sensitive body parts are shown, other than the occasional bare buttocks.


Unbleeped swearing, but "s--t" is as strong as it gets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Infrequent social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this mature primetime cable drama airs with strong, unbleeped language, although "s--t" is as strong as it gets. There's also some strong simulated sex (with bare buttocks, but no other sensitive body parts) and a plot that revolves around the violent sport of boxing. You'll see anything you'd see in a regular boxing match along with occasional shootings and beatings outside of the ring. There's also some occasional social drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCyraxPredator November 7, 2011
Teen, 14 years old Written byhisp34 February 3, 2011
Teen, 14 years old Written byheymonday101 January 28, 2011
Actually very very good! I thought I would hate it, but it's awesome! But there's a sex scene in last Saturday's episode where they f--k and you... Continue reading

What's the story?

LIGHTS OUT follows the struggles of retired professional boxer Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) -- a former heavyweight champ turned full-time familyman who once had $12 million in the bank, but now owes the IRS seven figures thanks to a sobering recession, his manager brother's (Pablo Schreiber) shady dealings, and his father's (Stacy Keach) prized boxing gym. The way Lights sees it, the only way to pay back his debts and provide for his wife (Catherine McCormack) and daughters (Meredith Hagner, Ryann Shane, and Lily Pilblad) is to re-enter the ring after a five-year absence. But doing so at 40 is a serious gamble.

Is it any good?

From the mind of executive producer Warren Leight (In Treatment) -- the series has some serious weight behind it. But, much like an old-school fighter who conserves his energy in the early rounds until his flashy, young opponent tires out, Lights Out feels like it's holding back on purpose. McCallany's performance is strong and earnest, a lot like the knocked-around guy he plays, But there aren't enough right-hook moments in the script, which could prompt some viewers to beat it before the getting gets good.

It's a nice touch having Keach, who played a past-his-prime fighter in John Huston's Fat City, co-star as Lights's dad, who doubles as his coach. But the English-born McCormack is less effective as the fighter's wife, who lets her accent slip far too often to convince us that she's really from New Jersey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's representations of a boxing family and what it's like to fight for a living. What are some of the reasons a person would pick boxing as a career? Do the risks of being a professional boxer outweigh the benefits? How does having a dangerous profession affect family relationships?

  • Is it ever OK to lie or do something illegal if you feel you have no other choice? What could Lights have done instead of making the choices he made?

  • Why have there been so many movies -- but so few television shows -- about boxing? What's your opinion of this series? Do you think it will appeal to viewers in spite of the sport's waning popularity?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and drama

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