The Assets

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Assets TV Poster Image
Adult-oriented drama digs into the CIA's inner workings.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Law and order is the central theme, as is being loyal to one's country. Duplicitous characters are not glamorized.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main characters are on the side of law and order. We see the central female CIA agent both at work and at home, struggling for balance yet succeeding in her job and helping keep her country safe.


The audience sees some violence: a man who has been shot, KGB officers who rough up a suspect. There also are scenes wherein violence is threatened, and there's physical menace and suspense.


Adults proposition each other, but the focus is on espionage, not romance.


A few curse words: "Aldrich has his head up his ass." There's also some rough language, as when a bathroom is referred to as a "piss pot."


The miniseries is based on a book written about true-life events.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place in bars; no one acts drunk. The series' main villain makes references to going out for a smoke but doesn't smoke on-screen.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Assets is a tense, adult-oriented miniseries about a real-life CIA mole and the coworkers who ferreted him out. Many of the characters on-screen are duplicitous and dangerous; main characters will be in situations that are full of menace and include guns, occasional dead bodies, and some blood. There are a few curses and some rough language, as well as drinking and talk about adultery. Understanding the goings-on requires some knowledge of the CIA and espionage; younger kids will be quickly lost and also bored by the talkiness. Save this one for adults who are interested in the Aldrich Ames case, for watching after the kids are in bed, or with teens interested in politics or spying.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJared Galczynski May 9, 2014

AY, Another MAYRA.

AY MAYRA. AY AY MAYRA. THIS IS THE BEST SPY SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN, EVEN OVER THE BLACKLIST. And it's not because it travels across the world, you know, whe... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Based on the real-life crimes of CIA mole Aldrich Ames, THE ASSETS centers on intrepid CIA agent Sandra Grimes (Jodie Whittaker), who's starting to catch on that something's going wrong in the agency's Soviet spying program. Spies stationed in the USSR, known to the CIA as "assets," are being arrested by the KGB at an alarming rate. Could there be a double agent in Grimes' own office? Grimes and her partner Jeanne Vertefeuille (Harriet Walter) are starting to put together the pieces. Is colleague Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys) on the Soviet payroll? It's up to Grimes and Vertefeuille to find out.

Is it any good?

The book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed isn't required reading for enjoying The Assets, but it would help. Those without at least a cursory understanding of who Ames is and what he did will be a bit lost in the goings-on, when spying terms are thrown about with abandon and things move too quickly for a lot of explanation. That's actually a good thing for the type of viewers who will want to see The Assets, spy junkies who want a look at what really happened.

For said junkies, The Assets is a fiesta of inside information. Viewers will learn a lot about the CIA's inner workings and the United States' Cold War relations with the USSR. It's deeply creepy stuff, and it's illuminating to realize what was behind the Ames headlines. Meanwhile, a lot of the action will be boring for viewers who don't get the importance of what's going on. A clued-in viewer sees the fate of the free world at stake; one coming fresh to the Ames story sees an office worker frowning over pieces of paper in manila files. This is real-life spying, not a James Bond movie; adjust expectations accordingly.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fact that The Assets is based on a real-life case of a dangerous CIA double operative named Aldrich Ames. Does this make the miniseries more interesting or less? Why?

  • The Assets is set during the 1980s and 1990s. What lets the audience know that this is the setting? Clothing? Hairstyles? The type of technology that is around? What else?

  • Spies and spying is a popular topic for drama. Can you think of any other movies or television shows about spies? How is The Assets like these other movies and shows? How is it different?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate