Prime Suspect TV Poster Image

Prime Suspect



Violent crime drama has grit -- and a strong female lead.
  • Network: NBC
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011

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.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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

Premiere date:September 22, 2011
Cast:Aidan Quinn, Kirk Acevedo, Maria Bello
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Prime Suspect 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.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Timely, mature drama about surviving political scandal.
  • Gutsy heroine with strong values rises above a so-so script.
  • Riveting crime drama with a strong female lead.

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 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.
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


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?