Seven Seconds

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Seven Seconds TV Poster Image
Strong characters fuel familiar but compelling crime drama.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Police and civilians work for justice. 

Positive role models & representations

Characters are complicated and flawed.

Violence

Cops brutally beat up suspects, police raid a crack house and discover a dead baby, two brothers get into a fistfight over money.

Sex

A teenage junkie talks explicitly about her genitalia; a husband and wife have rough sex in a bathroom.

Language

Many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole."

 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

An alcoholic character gets drunk at a bar and is seen drinking from small bottles of liquor throughout the day; a teenager smokes a cigarette; a teenager tries to buy heroin; drug dealing is central to the story.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Seven Seconds is a serious police drama involving corrupt cops, alcoholic DAs, and drug dealing gangs. The central crime involves the bloody hit and run of a teenage boy that may have been witnessed by a teenage junkie. Expect lots of rough language and drug-centered content. Older teens interested in urban police dramas might enjoy this, but the focus here is more on interpersonal dynamics than it is on crime solving.

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What's the story?

In SEVEN SECONDS, rookie narcotics officer Pete Jablonski (Beau Knapp) accidentally hits black teen Brenton Butler (Daykwon Gaines) with his car, putting the boy in a coma. Pete's superior, Di'Angelo (David Lyons), comes to the scene of the crime and insists on covering it up to protect his man and to prevent the inevitable racial outcry that would come when the community discovered a white cop had injured a black teen. While Brenton's family stays at his bedside, Di'Angelo finds a derelict to pin the crime on. When KJ Harper (Clare-Hope Ashitey), an alcoholic city prosecutor discovers that the patsy couldn't have done the crime, she and detective "Fish" Rinaldi (Michael Mosley) have to untangle what really happened. As Jablonski's guilt starts eating away at him and new relationships between the Butlers and a local drug king come to light, the story expands to be about more than just the crime, but about justice, faith, and personal compromise.  

Is it any good?

What starts out as a rather familiar story, almost like a blue-collar Bonfire of the Vanities, slowly develops into a rather compelling crime drama buoyed by some unique characterizations and good performances. Chief among these is Clare-Hope Ashitey as KJ, the barely-holding-it-together assistant district attorney; she's a real screw-up professionally and in her personal life. What's unique is that Seven Seconds refuses to immediately put her on the inevitable path to redemption. Ashitey finds real humanity in this character, balancing her flaws with humor and her bad decisions with unwavering tenacity. She also has great chemistry with Michael Mosley, who plays "Fish," the dog-loving detective who reluctantly teams up with KJ. Good-natured and unambitious, Fish jokingly calls KJ out on her drinking and is annoyed by her overly thorough tactics. They make an unlikely but believable pair. Watching their relationship move from ambivalence to mutual respect and maybe beyond makes Seven Seconds worth the time.

This series was created by Veena Sud, who created The Killing, a series that also featured a unique relationship between its two law enforcement leads. While that show went to preposterous lengths to ensure the audience couldn't predict the next plot twist, Seven Seconds appears more committed to exploring the interpersonal dynamics of its characters than to serving up new red herrings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How does the Black Lives Matter movement impact this story? Do you think Seven Seconds depicts police fairly?

  • Is Pete a sympathetic character? What methods do the show's creators employ to make him more or less worthy of the audience's sympathy?

  • Two characters argue about whether if, in a moment of desperate need, it's OK to accept money from an old friend who's now a drug dealer. What side would you take in the argument? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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