A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series is set within a S.W.A.T. unit with the Los Angeles Police Department. Violence is the chief parental concern here: The team deals with heavy crimes: rape, murder, drugs. They carry and use heavy and advanced equipment: enormous rifles, tanks, explosive devices, supercharged stun guns, helicopters with armed dudes hanging off them. There are shootings, officers use a stun gun to subdue criminals, we see dead bodies, and there are amped-up violent scenes like one in which a father is stabbed repeatedly by a criminal who's been having sex with his under-18 daughter. In other sexual scenes, a man and woman kiss; she takes off his shirt and holds up his handcuffs as both smile and he says "Are you ready for all that?" Language and cursing includes "damn," "hell," "asses," "kickass," "balls," "piss off," and "piss." Women and people of color have strong central roles in this drama.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Loosely based on the 2003 feature film of the same name (itself inspired by a TV show from the 1970s), S.W.A.T. stars Shemar Moore as Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, whose new job is heading a specialized tactical unit of the LAPD. He's a former Marine who's served honorably as an officer but now comes under fire from colleagues who aren't sure he can make the grade. Hondo's elite unit includes David "Deacon" Kay (Jay Harrington), an experienced S.W.A.T. officer who's committed to his work but feels like he should have gotten Hondo's job; Christina Alonso (Lina Esco), a hard-boiled K9 trainer; and Dominique Luca (Kenny Johnson), an expert driver who's new to the unit and has some brash ways that fellow officers don't always appreciate. Leading the unit is Jessica Cortez (Stephanie Sigman), L.A. Metro captain who's a dynamo at work -- and Hondo's main squeeze when she's not on the clock. Los Angeles is a pretty dangerous place. But with these men and women on the job, crime does not pay.
Is it any good?
Shemar Moore is magnetic, strong-jawed, and compelling, but he's marooned in this blah by-the-numbers police drama. You know what you'll see here, because you've already seen it: lots of serious dudes in uniform with jacked arms, chain link fences slowly sliding shut, sweaty criminals with suspicious facial hair who loom over piteously crying damsels, twirling their mustaches in utter villainy. Don't worry, ma'am, the S.W.A.T. team is coming, riding a big hunk of machinery so big, bad, and American that those bad guys will just throw up their hands and give up.
There are consolations. There's the previously mentioned Moore, the chemistry he has with love interest (and boss) Jessica, the many female and non-white faces matter-of-factly doing business in the S.W.A.T. command center and on the street. But it's not enough. There are better crime-and-investigation dramas to spend your spare time on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about shows they've seen that are similar to S.W.A.T. How is this show like those shows? How is it different?
Why are law enforcement units such an enduring setting for TV dramas? Why does it make for interesting television?
Do you often watch shows with a lot of physical altercations and violence? Should children be allowed to watch? At what age? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
For kids who love crime drama
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.