Major Crimes TV Poster Image

Major Crimes

A strong female lead anchors gripping crime drama.
  • Network: TNT
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Professionalism and ethics are sometimes put aside in the interest of solving cases and putting criminals behind bars. However, the rare glimpse of a competent woman in charge of a law enforcement division is very positive.

Positive role models

Captain Raydor, the officer at the center of the action, is hard-working, professional and caring, as well as treated with deference and respect by her coworkers, who don't question a woman being in charge of the division. The supporting cast around her is ethnically diverse.


The show centers on a law enforcement unit that deals with violent crimes, so guns are frequently brandished and there is both mayhem and murder. Dead bodies are shown, as is some gore, i.e. gunshot victims lying in pools of blood.


Some veiled discussion of sex and sexual issues: "Priests don't always make good babysitters," says one character to another.


Some cursing and insulting epithets such as "You are the biggest two-faced ass-kisser I ever saw."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drugs may be discussed as an aspect of criminal cases.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Major Crimes is a spin-off of TNT series The Closer, and is set in the same tense law enforcement milieu of the LAPD's Major Crimes unit, with mayhem occurring frequently onscreen. Guns, gore, and dead bodies are shown, and characters are often in jeopardy, though the main characters are police officers and generally a bit removed from immediate physical danger. A female captain leads the Major Crimes team and is shown working efficiently and effectively in a ethnically diverse group of officers. However, the officers occasionally give ethics the heave-ho in the interest of solving a crime, as in the pilot episode when detectives pretend to be offering a plea bargain deal to a suspect in order to trick him into confessing.

What's the story?

In MAJOR CRIMES, a spin-off of TNT's popular crime drama The Closer, Mary McDonnell is Captain Sharon Raydor, who has taken over leadership of the LAPD's Major Crimes unit after The Closer's Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) stepped down under mysterious circumstances. Johnson's specialty was extracting confessions from reluctant suspects, but the recession has hit law enforcement, and now the LAPD is trying to save time, money, and manpower by getting suspects to agree to plea bargains, thus avoiding a trial. Major Crime's criminals are wily and nefarious, but Raydor and her law enforcement cohorts have clever and tricky (and occasionally ethically questionable) ways of getting them to accept pleas. Captain Raydor is a tough and powerful woman on the job, but she has a softer side too, particularly when it comes to Rusty, an LAPD witness and foster kid Raydor takes in to protect him from those who would harm him.

Is it any good?


TNT could hardly have found a more magnetic and compelling lead for Major Crimes in Mary McDonnell, who is altogether more fun to watch than The Closer's Kyra Sedgwick, a bundle of neuroses with cutesy tics like a love of candy and chocolate. As viewers of cult favorite Battlestar Galactica discovered a few years ago, McDonnell makes a powerful center to build a show around, and she's utterly relatable as a strong woman doing her level best in a very difficult job.

The rest of the cast is as uniformly excellent as they were on The Closer, though young viewers in particular may be confused by the fast-moving dialogue and the zippy plot, which doesn't slow down to explain complex legal concepts. Those who don't have a basic understanding of the law and criminal cases will be a bit lost, though fans of police procedurals will be able to keep up just fine. Also excellent: Unlike other cop shows, the crimes being committed are heinous, but not exploitative, i.e. no rape victims shown in torn clothing with the camera lingering lasciviously over exposed body parts. Crime is not glamorized on Major Crimes, nor is police work. Though in real life, Captain Raydor's hair might not look so perfectly blown-out after a long day on the job.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why it's unusual to see a female cop on television in charge of a law enforcement division. Are female cast members common on cop shows? How is Captain Raydor alike or different from other female police officers and detectives on television?

  • Major Crimes is a spin-off of another female-centered crime drama, The Closer. Why do you think TNT chose to build this spin-off around a female officer? What audience was TNT hoping to attract, or keep by casting Mary McDonnell as Captain Raydor?

  • When you watch Major Crimes, do you notice a difference in the way criminals and law enforcement officers are presented? Does the music, dialogue, or camera angles change? What does that say about the way the viewer is supposed to regard the officers versus the criminal suspects?

TV details

Premiere date:August 13, 2012
Cast:G. W. Bailey, Mary McDonnell, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz, Tony Denison
Topics:Great girl role models
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Major Crimes 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 Closer TV Poster Image
    Riveting crime drama with a strong female lead.
  • Monk TV Poster Image
    Witty crime drama too highbrow for most kids.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV Poster Image
    Science prevails in mature, long-running crime procedural.

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 byGtoG July 1, 2013

Major Crimes, Better than, The Closer??

I didn't think that after a wonderful actress such as Kyra Sedgwick taking the lead in The Closer, that a "spin-off" from it could be anything other than a disappointment. Wow, was I wrong! Mary McDonnell is not only good, but dare I say, even better!! If you like police dramas, Major Crimes certainly won't disappoint. The stories are well written with just the right mix of serious intensity and perfectly timed humor. The stories get the viewer involved with the characters perfectly. The outstanding cast with their wonderful chemistry really make the show one of the better shows on any network today. Congratulations to TNT for bringing fine television to a world loaded with shows that are contrary to the intellect and insulting to the senses.
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheLu2 September 13, 2015

You can be younger

I believe you only have to be 13 to watch this show. It may be violent, but not nearly as bad as other crime shows. I am thirteen, and I very much enjoyed it, especially because I want to become a lawyer. I also believe these crimes are realistic to life. If you are still unsure, parents should watch the episode first. I hope I was of help.
Kid, 11 years old February 20, 2016

My favorite show!

My mom and I watch this show together all the time. It isn't VERY bad but there are weapons, some blood, and drugs. If you want a good crime show and don't mind some blood I recommend this show!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing