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 Prodigal Son is a dark, dramatic series about profiling and capturing serial killers. There are lots of violent moments, ranging from discussions about how people are murdered to explosions, attacks, and scenes featuring dead people (although the blood is minimal). Prescription medications are taken frequently, and drinking often occurs as a way of coping with loss. Extramarital affairs, BDSM, and other issues of a sexual nature are discussed. There’s some strong language, too.
What's the story?
PRODIGAL SON is a dramatic series about a gifted, but disturbed, criminal psychologist working with the NYPD. The son of Dr. Martin Whitly, a.k.a. the notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon” (played by Michael Sheen), Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) is a genius when it comes to solving murders. His relationship with his father, and the fear of possessing his father’s sociopathic traits, has left him struggling with his own psychological problems. Yet, he only feels a sense of normalcy when he’s working murder cases, especially with his mentor, NYPD Detective Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips). But his socialite mom (Bellamy Young) and his younger sister Ainsley (Halston Sage) want him to move past his father, and Arroyo’s team, which includes Detective Dani Powell (Aurora Perrineau) and Detective JT Tarmel (Frank Harts), are both impressed and a little concerned about his behavior.
Is it any good?
Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, this series tries to tell a unique story about a brilliant and dysfunctional son of a serial killer who profiles other serial killers. It’s an interesting attempt, but ultimately lacks the solid writing to create a well-rounded tale. Malcolm Bright comes across as being more weird and confused than a troubled genius, and his homicidal father lacks the dramatic flair necessary to merit his notoriety (let alone to make him interesting). Some of the additional storylines, which range from family tensions to potential romantic interests, are also more predictable than compelling. Ultimately, Prodigal Son has the potential to be a good series, but just doesn't get there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways Western media portrays mental illness. What stereotypes are often used by the media to describe people who are diagnosed with mental illnesses? In what ways are these characterizations problematic?
In Prodigal Son, is it Malcom or Dr. Whitly who appears more mentally unstable. How does this impact the way we understand, and feel about, these characters?
For kids who love mysteries
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.