A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Solving cases takes a good mix of cooperation and teamwork. Respecting and looking out for each other can help a team feel more like a family.
Positive Role Models
The NCIS team work together to solve cases on the islandi. They pool their resources and expect openness and teamwork from each of the members. The team unwind and decompress after a case as a unit, functioning more like a family in off-hours so they can be in sync with each other on the job.
Multiculturalism is the order of the day on NCIS: Hawai'i. Much of the cast is comprised of people of color, with Vanessa Lachey, who is half Filipina, leading the cast. Actors of note include Moses Goods and Alex Tarrant who provide lived experience as Native Pacific Islanders to their father and son characters. Tarrant is of New Zealand of Māori, Samoan and Niuean heritage and Goods is Native Hawaiian and Black. Kai Holman (Tarrant) and his father Wally (Goods) ground the series as one that aims to be respectful and cognizant of Native Hawaiian issues and characterizations. Some of the script is clunky when handling Kai, trying to find the balance between making him believable and potentially tokenizing him as a representative of the entire Native Hawaiian population.
There are three main women characters in the main cast, but they are given commanding roles, particularly Jane Tennant (Lachey),who leads the NCIS team on their missions. Yasmine Al-Bustami and Tori Anderson portray former lovers (a point for LGBTQ+ visibility in television) who also work with NCIS--Lucy Tara (Al-Bustami) is part of Tennant's team, and Kate Whistler (Anderson) is a liaison between the Navy and NCIS.
Since the show takes place in Hawaii, many of the suspects will be Asian or a person of color. But in the premiere episode, the Navy officer who dies is white, while the criminals behind his death are Asian. Also, Kai gets arrested by Asian and white police officers before he is able to go to work, possibly shining a light on how Native Hawaiians are mistreated by police, regardless of the officers' ethnicities. The scene also shows the friction between those native to the island and those who are descended from either immigrants or colonizers.
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Violence & Scariness
A huge navy plane crash/explosion starts the series. The aftermath of a deadly car crash is shown, including the body of a victim. Someone tries to run a suspect over in a scene. Scenes include fighting, including fighting with a knife and hammer, and gunfire.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A joke about someone potentially having "weird fetishes." A scene with intense kissing.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of drug overdose as a cause of death. Scenes with drinking alcohol, including scenes set at a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that NCIS: Hawai'i is a crime procedural that follows the NCIS team solving cases on the island of Hawaii. Part of the larger NCIS franchise, the series features deadly situations including a plane crash and a car crash. Drugs are mentioned, and there are scenes with alcohol and light sexual content. The series does give viewers a slightly more respectful view of Hawaii by including the points of view of native Pacific Islanders and by including two Pacific Islanders in its cast.
Is It Any Good?
This nice-to-look at series hits the usual beats you expect from a CBS procedural show, but gets props for legitimate inclusion of native Hawaiian people in its cast. In one sense, there's not much to complain about -- fans of the popular series and of the procedural genre as a whole will feel satisfied with familiar character archetypes and cases getting solved without too much fuss. Of course, there's some violence, but --as par for the course with this kind of show -- it's violent enough to create some realism without ever letting you forget you're watching something many use to wind down with at the end of the day.
Where NCIS: Hawai'i builds on CBS' increased commitment to diversity is by showing a team that interacts with the native Hawaiian population on a daily basis. Instead of showing a whitewashed version of Hawaii, the series features a multicultural cast including Alex Tarrant, an actor from New Zealand who is of Māori, Samoan and Niuean heritage. While he's not Hawaiian, Tarrant's background does give him more authority on the experiences of native Pacific Islanders than if his character Kai Holman was cast with another actor. Moses Goods is another actor on the series who represents the Native Hawaiian experience. Goods is Black and Native Hawaiian, giving him first-hand knowledge of what it's like growing up on the island. Like most CBS shows, NCIS: Hawai'i is still gently guiding audiences towards being more inclusive in their thinking when it comes to procedurals. But it's great that the series has introduced their viewers to the fact that Hawaii is more than just a vacation spot --it's also an area of land that was once a nation unto itself.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.