Low Winter Sun TV Poster Image

Low Winter Sun

Dirty cop drama is dark and violent, with murky morals.
  • Network: AMC
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Police corruption is a major theme, and when it comes to "law enforcement," morality is murky. The overall mood is dark -- and rather desperate.

Positive role models

The main characters are cops who've murdered a fellow officer and are trying to cover it up. Other central characters are drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes.


Violence is explicit, with drownings, shootings, beatings, and blood. We see bloody corpses with faces eaten by dogs, plus close-up autopsy scenes with blood and bone exposed.


Sexual tension typically takes a backseat to violence, but part of the plot concerns the main character's physical relationship with his girlfriend.


"S--t" is unbleeped, along with regular use of words like "hell," "damn," "prick," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drug dealing is a major theme, and both major and minor characters use illegal drugs like cocaine. Social drinking and alcoholism are visible, too.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Low Winter Sun is set in a dark and crumbling Detroit, where some cops are as dirty as the criminals they're chasing. (In fact, the two main characters are police officers who are trying to cover up the fact that they've killed one of their own.) Violence is bloody and explicit (from breaking bones to a bullet through the head), and there's unbleeped language (from "s--t" to "prick"). Drug dealers and drug users are major characters, too, and part of the story involves a character's relationship with his girlfriend.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Soon after Detroit detectives Frank Agnew (Mark Strong) and Joe Geddes (Lennie James) off corrupt cop Brendan McCann (Michael McGrady), they're faced with a by-the-book internal affairs investigator (David Costabile) -- and the realization that they're both in for more than they bargained for. Meanwhile, a local crime lord (James Ransone) and his wife (Sprague Grayden) prepare to expand their criminal empire against the backdrop of a LOW WINTER SUN.

Is it any good?


Based on a two-part British miniseries of the same name, Low Winter Sun drags viewers into Detroit's crumbling inner city -- complete with crime lords, desperate drug users, and feral dogs -- to witness one police officer's descent into murder and corruption. And it feels like a very long, dark hour indeed. Even the art direction and cinematography is dingy and drab, suggesting a grim world cloaked secrets and lies.

The ensemble is well-cast and believable, but most impressive is London-born leading man Strong, who's reprising the role he played in the original series, this time swapping his character's Scottish accent for an American one. Paired with the unpredictable James -- who's also a Brit -- he plays the series' dark themes for all they're worth, and makes wading through the muck feel weirdly rewarding.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Low Winter Sun portrays life in Detroit's inner city and whether the show's take on it is accurate. Are the story and characters particular to Detroit, or could they work in another urban setting? How do the crumbling city streets and the desperate people who walk them help enforce the show's major themes?

  • Does it surprise you that cops can be the "bad guys"? How do Frank and Joe measure up as role models -- and do they have any redeeming qualities?

  • Why are antiheroes in pop culture so appealing, from Mad Men's Don Draper to Breaking Bad's Walter White? What is it about these characters that keeps us watching?

TV details

Premiere date:August 11, 2013
Cast:Athena Karkanis, Lennie James, Mark Strong
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Low Winter Sun was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

  • The Wire TV Poster Image
    Realistic drama about urban crime is not for kids.
  • Breaking Bad TV Poster Image
    Morally ambiguous show is all about crime, iffy choices.
  • The Sopranos TV Poster Image
    Violent mob drama doesn't pull any punches.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byNot a parent September 10, 2013

Probably 12+

Doesn't deserve a 4 on language and probably not a 5 on violence. Also lower than 17+
What other families should know
Too much violence