Prime Suspect

Common Sense Media says

Violent crime drama has grit -- and a strong female lead.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Overall, the series implies that the world is a gritty and dangerous place, where violent crime is commonplace -- but justice is possible.

Positive role models

The main character is a take-charge woman who feels very real. She's independent, smart, and assertive, but she also has private moments of vulnerability. She works confidently in an overwhelmingly male profession, overcoming sexism through straight talk and continued hard work that gains respect.


As a homicide detective, the main character is surrounded by violence -- and its repercussions -- almost every day. Her job requires her to carry a weapon and interact with bloody crime scenes that stem from shootings, stabbings, slayings, etc. Some crimes are of a sexual nature, resulting from rape, etc.


Some discussions of relationships, past sexual history.


Language includes "whore," "bitch," "ass," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking -- and, in some cases, drinking whiskey at the office. The main character and her father are both trying to quit smoking, to varying degrees of success.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this realistic crime drama (based on the popular Helen Mirren BBC show of the same name) presents a gritty, dangerous world in which violence is a daily occurrence. As a homicide detective, the main character -- a strong, smart, independent female role model -- must carry a weapon and interact with bloody crime scenes stemming from various violent acts. She also endures sexism from several male colleagues, taking insults like "whore" and "bitch." There's some social drinking, too, along with her continued attempt to quit smoking.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

When Detective Jane Timoney (Maria Bello) transfers into the New York City Police Department's homicide division, the ruling all-male "beef trust" doesn't take kindly to her gender -- and they make their objections known, both to Jane and to the unit's wary lieutenant in charge (Aidan Quinn). But through gumption and impressive police work, frank-talking Jane eventually earns her colleagues' respect as a gifted cop out to catch the PRIME SUSPECT.

Is it any good?


Although it's adapted from an award-winning British crime drama of the same name, Prime Suspect isn't a carbon copy, tweaking details from the original series to suit American tastes. But the fact that Jane Timoney of the NYPD has little in common with Jane Tennison of Scotland Yard won't likely matter to those coming at the show with fresh eyes -- or even those who've seen the U.K. version -- because his stateside reboot has plenty of great things going for it.


Among the best are the stand-out performances, from Bello's brash-but-believable lead to Quinn's admirably restrained supporting work. (Even the briefest roles are well-cast and memorable for their realism.) That said, a notable distraction -- and, admittedly, this feels like nitpicking -- is Bello's odd choice of headgear and makeshift ascot, which, while they may symbolize some aspect of her character, merely drag her down in visual gimmickry.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sexism in the workplace or at school, along with strategies for overcoming it. How do assumptions and stereotypes about gender play into this type of discrimination? Are women the victims of sexism more often than men? Is "reverse" sexism possible for a man immersed in a workplace of mostly women?

  • How accurately does the show reflect the level of violence in the world around us? Do shows like these promote a culture of violence or merely portray our culture in a realistic light?

  • How does Jane compare to other female role models on television? Would you consider her a positive role model, in spite of her flaws?

TV details

Cast:Aidan Quinn, Kirk Acevedo, Maria Bello
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Prime Suspect was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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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Adult Written bydr dew November 2, 2011


i love this show and i watch it every week and think it is the greatest cop drama ever
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent Written byIan Teuty October 3, 2011

Watch Something Else

The format doesn't allow for an indepth study like the original Helen Mirren show did on the BBC. The original Prime Suspect was filled with original writing and a clear perspective of police work. THe new remake is like most other current TV crime dramas...a quick fix story that adds little to how our society behaves.


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