A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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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.
Talk to your kids 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?