Prodigal Son

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Prodigal Son TV Poster Image
Dark drama has OK plot, weak characters, lots of violence.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It’s a crime solving series, but troubled family relationships and dealing with the past are major themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Malcolm is both troubled and spurred on by his father. Dr. Whitley is charming, intelligent, manipulative, and a killer. 


Murder is a key theme. Bodies are shown, sometimes with bloody injuries. Punches, attacks, poisonings, chases, shootings, explosions, and other violent moments visible.


Extramarital affairs and other sexual liaisons are discussed. People are shown in their underwear.


Words like "damn," "hell," "crap."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Prescription pills are consumed. Alcohol abuse is referenced. Both are used to cope with difficult circumstances and mental problems. 

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTay Y. November 9, 2019


I don't often get hooked on new shows, but I was in from the pilot! This is a really good show (so far, I've only watched the first few!) And is reall... Continue reading
Adult Written bySmic March 7, 2021

Not rated for age

If you want a more accurate rating for this show, look at the criminal minds review.
Teen, 15 years old Written byJacqueline_l03 September 30, 2019

Awesome Show

It really depends on the person. I LOVE this show and I don’t have an issue with any of the language, it just flies over my head and it has an awesome story lin... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySneakyg May 13, 2021

This is the best!

First of all, it's a beautiful TV series. Yes, it might be bit violent. But it's a crime series. There's nothing more than that. There aren... Continue reading

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

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