Rookies

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Rookies TV Poster Image
New cops face the realities of law enforcement.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series focuses on the tough journey that rookie cops go through after leaving the police academy. It's often hard to remember that the suspects featured here are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The majority of police officers are male and Caucasian; a few officers are female, Latino/a and/or African American. One officer notes that, as a man, it's hard for him to take orders from a female officer. Most of the people cited and/or arrested are African American and Latino and from lower-income communities.

Violence

Frequent discussions about violent criminal behavior, including assaults, stabbings, shootings, etc. Gunfire is heard at times; guns and Tasers are sometimes drawn. Graphic images of bloody corpses are sometimes shown. Alleged victims are shown pushing, shoving, screaming, shouting, etc. Officers are occasionally shown breaking up street fights and domestic disputes.

Sex

Occasional discussions about prostitution. Women and transvestites are sometimes shown wearing skimpy outfits.

Language

Words like "damn" are sometimes heard, while stronger curse words like "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of discussions about illegal drug activity; one drug bust results in the confiscation of crack cocaine (which is clearly visible on camera). One Jefferson Parish officer smokes cigarettes on the job.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows rookie cops as they begin their on-the-job field training -- includes lots of discussions about violent behavior, images of bloody dead bodies, and people screaming, yelling, and fighting. Words like "damn" are audible, while stronger curse words ("f--k," "s--t") are bleeped. There's also some stereotypical treatment of suspects from African-American, Latino, and/or lower-income communities.

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What's the story?

ROOKIES is an unscripted series in which former teachers, restaurant managers, soldiers, and other folks who've just graduated from the police academy head out on patrol for the first time. Filmed in Jefferson Parish, La., and Tampa, Fla., the series follow rookies and their veteran field training officers (FTOs) as they take to their squad cars and learn to survive on the streets. From conducting traffic stops to locating homicide victims, the new officers must learn how to deal with difficult and often dangerous situations while keeping themselves and their partners safe. They must also decide whether they're actually cut out for the career they've chosen.

Is it any good?

Unlike most police reality series, Rookies offers a genuinely informative look at police training and the challenges that new officers face when starting their careers. Viewers get an honest glimpse of how hard it is for new police officers to transition from in-school training to the unglamorous real-world police environment. It also highlights the different techniques that FTOs use to teach their charges (once in a while veterans are shown enjoying some laughs at the newbies' expense, especially when they make some goofy mistakes).

But while Rookies is more educational than some of its predecessors, it still traffics in violence (including pools of blood and real dead bodies), some strong language, and drug activity. It also includes images of suspects from minority groups and lower-income communities that are consistent with those featured on police shows like COPS and Street Patrol. And despite a clear reminder that people are innocent until proven guilty at the beginning of each episode, it's often hard to remember that the people being handcuffed are still blameless in the eyes of the law. Older teens -- especially those interested in a career in law enforcement -- will probably be able to handle it, but it's really not for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media portrays law enforcement. Do shows like this offer a fair representation of police officers and their work? Do you think these shows ever contribute to stereotypes about what cops and criminals look like -- or about the communities they come from? Families can also discuss what it takes to become a police officer. What kind of training do cops receive? How hard is it to go from being a teacher or soldier to becoming a police officer? What are some of the challenges associated with that kind of career change?

TV details

  • Premiere date: October 21, 2008
  • Network: A&E
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming

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