Shades of Blue

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Shades of Blue TV Poster Image
Cop drama's leading lady is sexy, strong, and morally shady.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes of corruption, deception, and moral ambiguity are balanced with themes of family, friendship, and loyalty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters navigate their lives with a murky moral compass that leads them to justify their actions in their own ways. Though some believe they're "serving the greater good," others are just "surviving the day." But the rookie of the group is the most conflicted, saying, "I don't wanna be this kind of cop." On the upside, there are consequences for those who break the law.


Characters use weapons in shoot-outs and other life-threatening situations; some blood and dead bodies.


Implied sex with lingerie, steamy kissing, bare male chests; no sensitive parts shown.


Characters use words such as "bitch," "screw," and "hell," plus crass terms such as "circle jerk" and "nut massage."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink socially but not on the job.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shades of Blue centers on a no-nonsense female detective who's working in a busy Brooklyn precinct, where shoot-outs and run-ins with deadly criminals come with the territory. Characters obviously carry (and fire) guns, so you'll see bloody injuries that sometimes result in death, and you'll hear characters use crass phrases such as "circle jerk" alongside words such as "bitch," "piss," and "hell." Though sexy stuff isn't the focus, the series makes it a point to highlight Harlee's body with low-cut tops, shots of her making out in only a bra, and other provocative visuals. Characters also drink socially, and some cases involve illegal drugs.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoeh6 September 22, 2018

Shades of excellence

I absolutely love Shades Of Blue, although I have to admit, it took me some time to get in to the series, but by the time the second season came out I was hooke... Continue reading
Adult Written bySharon H. March 12, 2017

Violent, disturbing, another way to display Lopez's body in slutty ways

Story itself moves very slowly. The only highlight of this show is Liota's acting skills. The violence and disturbing sex scenes make this inappropriate... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 11, 2016

Entertaining and smart action crime show is very violent and bloody.

My rating:R for bloody violence, language, and sexuality/nudity.

What's the story?

In SHADES OF BLUE, Brooklyn detective Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) seems to have a good thing going, pocketing the bribe money she shares with a tight-knit pool of dirty cops (led by Ray Liotta) and using it to pay for her teenage daughter's expensive private schooling. But this single mom's corrupt web of loyalties catches fire when the FBI makes her an informant with no choice but to work against her friends.

Is it any good?

Though it sets its sights above standard police fare by focusing on cops and their moral complexities, Shades of Blue shoots itself in the foot every time it tries to push its female star's sex appeal. At times, it's almost comical, such as when a sweaty Lopez finishes up with her boxing instructor by straddling him and stripping off her shirt to make out with him ... while they're still in the ring. At other times, it's just plain annoying, like when she coyly points out to a male colleague that a flower can be "bisexual" (insert eye roll).

Thankfully, Lopez's hotness isn't an important part of the plot, and she delivers a strong performance that rises above the so-so script (and her low-cut tops). The series also sets up a compelling conflict between Lopez's character and her corrupt mentor, Liotta, a seemingly decent man who groomed her to rationalize their side business but shows a different side when he smells a rat that he vows to trap and kill.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Shades of Blue's title ties into its major themes. Are the cops in Harlee's circle wholly good, wholly bad, or somewhere in between? Is there any real justification for breaking the law when it's your job to uphold it? Is an officer who takes bribes any better than a common criminal?

  • How does Harlee measure up as a role model? Does the fact that she's taking payoffs to make her daughter's life better make her a more sympathetic character than someone who's simply pocketing the cash? How do her motivations compare to those of the other cops she works with?

  • How does Shades of Blue use sex to sell itself and its female lead -- and is it even necessary? Would the series look the same if Harlee were, say, a single dad named Harlan?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love crime stories

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