Parents' Guide to

The Alienist

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Dark, very bloody murder mystery based on best-seller.

TV TNT Drama 2018
The Alienist Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 11 parent reviews

age 18+

Violence against children and animals

Others have already noted the dark themes, including up-close sexualization and exploitation of young boys and brutal violence. If that's not a deal-breaker for you, there's also a scene of a cat being murdered. I've only watched 3 episodes, and I'm not sticking around for the that or the dead babies. Its a well-done show, but not that spectacular.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 18+

Macabre & Bloody not for anyone under 18

Fabulous period costumes, stylish and I love the history but the characters are hard to like and the gore is shocking and disturbing. This is not for children or families. There are very disturbing scenes with dead babies and mutilated body parts. I found certain scenes really disturbing.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (11 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Menacing, bloody, and as pitch-black as TV dramas get, this period piece might veer over the line into exploitative and trashy if it weren't so artfully done. Murder mysteries about young dead sex workers are a staple on network TV police procedurals, of course, and though they're usually female, flipping the gender doesn't remove the staleness from the premise. But setting the action in 19th-century NYC? Now, that has promise, and clearly some money's been spent re-creating a Gangs of New York-era Manhattan. There are puffed sleeves and high collars, corsets and horse-drawn carriages, fires in ash barrels and clacky old typewriters and chamber pots. The horribly mutilated body discovered in the show's first episode is found on "the new bridge": The Williamsburg.

But most of all, there are cops and investigators prising apart a particularly juicy mystery using really old-school police methods (fingerprinting is state of the art), and giving us fascinating peeks at a long-gone world. It helps, too, and the band of sleuths who come together to solve The Alienist's murders include strong proto-feminist Sarah and a pair of Jewish detectives who get short shrift on the mighty-Irish police force. These characters have a modern "other" status that presents an easier access point to viewers who might be turned off by seeing a whole bunch of smug white guys solving a murder. This show isn't for kids, and it isn't a comfort TV watch -- but for lovers of vintage crime and dramas about very bad things, The Alienist will cast a spell.

TV Details

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