Northern Rescue

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Northern Rescue TV Poster Image
Heartfelt, emotional drama tackles tough issues head on.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

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

Positive Messages

Show follows family's journey through grief after loss. Presents raw emotions including anger, sadness, uncertainty in adults and teens as characters cope with grief in different ways. A main character keeps a secret about her mom from her family, knowing the truth would devastate them. Some rebellious teen behavior, including smoking on-screen, references to getting high and drunk. Prominent themes of perseverance, overcoming adversity.


Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters deal with their feelings in different ways, not all of which are entirely healthy. Maddie and Scout both have moments of aggression. John turns his grief into determination to keep his family together and be successful in his job. As story evolves, they come to terms with loss and find better ways to relate. Sarah is cast as perfect wife and mother, but Maddie hints at knowing that she had flaws, too.



Some rescue scenes show graphic injuries like compound fractures and perilous scenarios that could be fatal for the victims. Other incidents happen offscreen, but effects are shown afterward, as when Maddie punches a classmate and leaves her with bloody lip and bruises.


Kissing between married couples and teen couples. References to STDs.



Rarely "damn," "bitch," "hell," and "sucks." 


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes of teens smoking cigarettes and marijuana. Maddie comes home drunk and high in an act of rebellion.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Northern Rescue is a Canadian drama about a family trying to cope with and move past the loss of their wife/mom. Their emotional journey involves intense grief, sadness, anger, and fear. Teens rebel in potentially harmful ways like drinking and getting high (it's not shown, but a character comes home under the influence) and beating up a classmate (it happens offscreen, but injuries are visible). Expect occasional language like "bitch," "damn," and "sucks." Teen and adult couples kiss, and there's potential danger in a main character's work in search and rescue. But this compelling series also has strong themes of perseverance and overcoming adversity. William Baldwin stars.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byalleiju22 April 8, 2019

Way too mature for young teens and under

After reading the reviews and looking at the ratings we went ahead and started the 1st season with our 13 and 14 year olds. While there is a valuable storyline... Continue reading
Adult Written byTio Sam January 2, 2020
Teen, 14 years old Written bymishk July 6, 2020

sad but sweet

There is smoking and kissing in this show but other than that its amazing and i enjoyed it so much
Teen, 13 years old Written byBarrett_Keck March 22, 2019


I'm 13 and me and my mom watched this show last night very good , . should be rated PG . and my mom is super over protective!

What's the story?

In NORTHERN RESCUE, life changes in an instant for the West family when Sarah (Michelle Nolden) dies unexpectedly and leaves her husband, John (William Baldwin), a widower with three kids. Reeling from the loss and desperate for a fresh start, John moves them from Boston to his tiny hometown of Turtle Island Bay. Nursing a hidden grief of her own, Sarah's younger sister, Charlie (Kathleen Robertson), pitches in to help care for Maddie (Amalia Williamson), Scout (Spencer Macpherson), and Taylor (Taylor Thorne) so that John can focus on his new post as head of the town's search and rescue team.

Is it any good?

That this moving drama series doesn't shy away from telling a story about how bad life can be sometimes may not sound like a selling point, but it is. The show is a little slow to gain traction and isn't compelling right from the start, but when the characters' individual personalities evolve, you're drawn into their lengthy and turbulent healing and restarting process. John tries to balance being strong with being emotionally available for his kids, and they wrestle with their loss in different ways and with different measures of success.

As family dramas go, Northern Rescue makes a strong case for a place near the top of watch-together TV for parents and teens. It deals thoughtfully with emotion, teen rebellion, family discord, and life-altering loss, raising several potential discussion points for families. At the same time, the story presents characters who overcome challenges by leaning on each other and being open to change.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the characters in Northern Rescue grieve and recover in different ways. How do their individual responses reflect their personalities? How do they cope with setbacks? Are there "right" and "wrong" ways to handle difficult life events?

  • How do the characters demonstrate perseverance and courage? How do these character strengths look different in different people? Why are these kinds of traits important?

  • How do you keep the lines of communication open in your family? What role does a strong support system play in your ability to overcome challenges?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family drama

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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