Parents' Guide to

Sherlock

By Elka Karl, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Smart modern detective tales with dark, morbid elements.

TV PBS Drama 2010
Sherlock Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 39 parent reviews

age 15+

One of the best shows ever made - but NOT for kids.

Firstly, just to be clear: this show is AMAZING. I firmly believe it is one of the best television shows ever to grace our screens. I can't wait to show it to my daughter. She is going to love its clever dialogue, intricate plotting, and slow-burn drama. She is going to love the beautifully realised characters, and the complex interplay between them. She's going to love the mysteries, and the excitement, and the utterly delicious humour of it. And I'm going to love showing her a show that celebrates both intelligence and empathy, and continually reminds us that one is not enough without the other. But I'm going to have to wait, because this show also has the potential to be extremely disturbing and frightening. Yes, it's about people who track down killers, and there's corpses, etc. Honestly I couldn't care less about any of that; my daughter adores Agatha Christie books (and movies), and indeed The Hunger Games, and I consider those to be fine for her. As has been mentioned by others, there is very little on-screen violence here. And actually, some episodes would be fine for a 13 or possibly even 12 year old. But that's the problem: SOME episodes. Parents should be aware that the psychological impact of many episodes of this show goes well beyond blood spatter and gunshot wounds. The very first episode is in fact one of the ones I found a bit disturbing, and the scene in question contained no violence at all - but it did contain a horrible creeping realisation of what was going on, and how this killer worked (I won't go into it; I don't do spoilers). Some episodes in later seasons would be even more problematic. This is not a show that relies on jump-scares or a beastie chasing around and trying to eat people. That kind of fear is immediate and easily forgotten. This is a show that has been very cleverly and deliberately written to reach deep into the human psyche, find the vulnerabilities hiding there, and oh-so-gently start to squeeze... For the record, yes there is also a dominatrix with all the attendant issues that might raise (only a problem in one episode, and it's actually less of a drama than you might expect). There is drug use, not always with any real consequences (although the heavier examples of this occur much later - not really an issue in the first couple of seasons). There are also very complex, very intense, and sometimes devastating, emotional relationships between major characters (and no, I don't mean they are sexual, but in some cases they may be a bit heavy for younger viewers). It is a masterpiece. But it isn't for kids, or even tweens. Older teenagers will be fine, and in general will be much better placed to appreciate it anyway.
age 11+

I watched when I was 13 with my 11 year old sister and neither of us had any problems. Some blood/gore but nothing most kids haven't been exposed to already.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (39 ):
Kids say (306 ):

Arthur Conan Doyle's classic series has been retold countless times, so it's impressive that this latest version actually feels fresh. Lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch does an excellent job portraying Holmes's eccentricities and intelligence, and Martin Freeman is even more convincing as the Afghan War veteran/doctor John Watson. The series is well served by its 21st century setting: Holmes uses technology to solve his crimes, including GPS, text messages, and emails. The writing is smart and there's plenty of witty repartee between the characters with laugh out loud moments in each episode. One fun update is the series' use of text words floated across the screen to illuminate Holmes's thought process.

There's plenty of suspense and mystery to be found in Sherlock, but little actual on-screen violence. Still, the concepts presented within the series are menacing enough to scare younger viewers. But for families with teens -- especially those who enjoy solving mysteries -- this is an enjoyable and engaging series. Teens might even be inspired to read some of the original mysteries.

TV Details

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