Unconventional format adds freshness to gritty crime drama.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The detectives always catch the killer, but there's an overarching sense that the world is a deadly place, where even seemingly "normal" people can snap and do you harm.

Positive role models

The main character excels at her job, where skilled women and men work alongside each other to dissect complex crimes. That said, her parenting skills at home are far from perfect, sometimes treating her teenage son more like a peer than a child.


Flashbacks reveal violent crimes and lots of blood, but those images are usually brief.


Sexually charged kissing, brief shots of lingerie, and some audible lovemaking, etc.


Gateway language like "damn," "hell," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some cases involve social drinking, drug use, etc.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Motive centers around a headstrong female role model who is likable, but flawed, with a flair for the unconventional -- both at work as a homicide detective and at home as a single mother. Each episode revolves around a violent crime, although most bloody scenes are brief, and the killer is always brought to justice. Language is mild (think "hell," "damn," etc.), and sexual activity is mostly implied, with some kissing and audible lovemaking, etc. Some cases involve social drinking and drug use.

Parents say

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What's the story?

"Whodunit" isn't important in this unconventional crime drama that reveals the killer and the victim at the start of each episode before following homicide detective Angie Flynn (Kristin Lehman) -- a street-smart single mom -- and her partner, Det. Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira), through the process of cracking the case. But the killer's MOTIVE is ultimately revealed through vivid flashbacks that shed light on the crime.

Is it any good?


The last thing the world needs is another crime drama. But the surprisingly effective Motive at least attempts to change things up by throwing out the whodunit plots that are done to death on other police procedurals. Forget focusing on who committed the crime; on Motive, you'll find that out in the first few minutes, leaving the rest of the time to reveal how -- and, more importantly, why -- that person would commit murder.

Of course, Motive's format isn't a completely original concept (the long-running TV mystery Columbo did for decades), but it definitely feels fresh among a crowded schedule of genre competitors. It's also a Candian import, which brings fresh faces with Lehman (who looks an awful lot like Uma Thurman) and Ferreira, plus a far more familar one to American audiences with Lauren Holly, who plays the team's lead medical examiner.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Motive's format and how it compares to other popular crime dramas and police procedurals. Does knowing who the killer is at the very beginning make the show more or less interesting than other crime dramas that reveal the killer's identity at the end? How does the format shift the focus from "who" to "why"?

  • How does Angie stack up as a role model, both on the job (where she works in a traditionally male-dominated profession) and at home (where she's a single mother)? Can someone still be a good role model even if they have flaws?

  • What do you think of Angie's parenting style? Do kids respond better to parents who seem more like friends than moms and dads? What are the pros and cons to Angie's more casual approach?

TV details

Cast:Kristin Lehman, Lauren Holly, Louis Ferreira
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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