TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
S.W.A.T. TV Poster Image
Boilerplate police procedural has violence, kids in danger.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This series is set in a law enforcement unit, so heroes and criminals are sharply delineated. The show does offer some iffy messages about masculinity (an officer tells a young boy, "Your mom is really scared, so you've got to be the man of the house and help protect her"), sex (the show lets us see more exploitative scenes than some viewers would like), and race (a man calls a Latino boy a "cholo"). At other times, the show has explicit positive moral messages: "Sometimes following the rules and doing what's right isn't always the same thing," says Hondo. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hondo is an empathetic officer who puts the safety of civilians first: "The LAPD is going to keep you safe," he assures a woman who fears for her family, and she (and we) believes him. He's also ethical, fair, and humble. Later, he apologizes to a colleague: "You knew better. My bad. I'm sorry." The cast boasts good racial and ethnic diversity, with women and people of color in strong, central roles. 


The S.W.A.T. team, as you might expect, uses a lot of advanced weaponry and devices: enormous rifles, tanks, explosive devices, supercharged stun guns, helicopters with armed dudes hanging off them. There are sudden shootings (those shot usually fall to the ground with groans and cries but no blood). Dead bodies are briefly shown. Mild but more disturbing than usual violence: a young boy has a huge raised scar as revenge for his mom's court testimony; a man talks about his dad's finger being amputated by a gangster; a father is stabbed repeatedly (with blood, screams, and grisly noises on the soundtrack) by a criminal who's been having sex with his under-18 daughter while the daughter cries and screams. 


S.W.A.T. team members are young, gorgeous, and often single -- expect flirting, dating, love interests. There are also scenes that read as exploitative, such as one in which a 30-something con leers at the (young-looking, said to be "underage") girl he has kidnapped and asks if she wants to "see stars" before they die. Seconds later, a S.W.A.T. helicopter flies over a ridge on the way to save her, as patriotic hero music floods the soundtrack. 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," "kick-ass," "balls" (as another word for courage), "piss off," and "piss" (referring to urine).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs may appear as an element of law enforcement cases.

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynuenjins December 11, 2019

Soap Opera with guns. Often overtly sexualized propaganda debunks otherwise mediocre show.

Threesomes living together, the main character proudly sleeping with another mans wife? These are just some of the very center stage plot points shoved in your... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byYeetboi21 November 18, 2020

How is this show so politically correct???

Hondo the main character treats every white person as a racist jerk and complains about them even though he got promoted just because he is black. Brooklyn 99 i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byDogcat May 1, 2020


Both my grandparents like this show. This is very violent.

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?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love crime drama

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