The Blacklist TV Poster Image

The Blacklist

Twisty plots save violent crime drama from predictability.
Popular with kids
  • Network: NBC
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2013

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although there's a sense that justice prevails, the plot generally plays up danger and uncertainty and blurs the line between good and evil when it comes to Red and his real intentions -- whatever they may be.

Positive role models

Red is an antihero you love to hate -- and whom you don't know whether to trust. Elizabeth is in many ways his foil, a strong female lead who's loyal to her job and determined to make "bad guys" pay. Still, she could have some skeletons in her closet.


Sudden moments of violence include explosions, collisions, shootings, and stabbings with some blood, although it's not overly gratuitous. Characters carry weapons and interact with dangerous criminals.

Not applicable

Gateway words such as "bitch" and "hell."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, mostly in the background.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Blacklist isn't ruled by violence, but its characters walk around in a dangerous world, where explosions, collisions, shootings, and stabbings come with the territory. As a result, some scenes are bloody but in a realistic rather than gratuitous way. Language is generally tame, too, with mostly gateway terms such as "bitch" and "hell," and any social drinking is scarce.

What's the story?

Soon after Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) -- one of the FBI's most-wanted fugitives -- walks calmly into a federal building and inexplicably turns himself in, he asks for exclusive access to newly minted FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) in exchange for his help in thwarting a dangerous terrorist. However, playing partner to a wary Elizabeth is only part of Red's plan to cross every name off the blacklist of contemptible criminals he's compiled.

Is it any good?


We're not sure whether NBC wanted us to think THE BLACKLIST was basically a Silence of the Lambs rewrite, but at first glance, that's exactly what it feels like. Spader summons his best Hannibal Lecter, and Boone steps into the shoes of his Starling-esque protege. Other details feel all-too-familiar. It's possible the similarities were all homage? Either way, The Blacklist is thankfully more original than its promotional trailer.

One of the twists that takes The Blacklist in a different direction is its female lead's decision to seek adoptive motherhood with her supportive husband while pursuing a potentially dangerous new career, which brings up all sorts of worthy questions about men, women, marriage, and "having it all" (whatever that means). There are also some intriguing mysteries about Elizabeth's past -- and her possible connections to Reddington -- that are just weird enough to keep you watching.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Blacklist's female protagonist flips the script when it comes to "traditional" portrayals of women, work, and motherhood. How does Elizabeth compare to other strong female leads on TV?

  • What's your take on Red as a role model? Is he helpful, harmful, or somewhere in-between? For Elizabeth, do the benefits of agreeing to work with him outweigh the risks?

  • Do you think the show's creators made intentional references to Silence of the Lambs? What would be the benefit of connecting the show to the critically acclaimed movie?

TV details

Premiere date:September 23, 2013
Cast:Diego Klattenhoff, James Spader, Megan Boone
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Blacklist was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old December 1, 2013


Violence is huge here. I probably should not be watching this show, but I like it and my mom lets me. If blood scares you, don't watch a single second of this.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byhorsegal545 December 4, 2013


wow. this show is amazing!! however, violence is bad. not as bad as csi, but there's a lot of it. the story in this show is so intricate and suspenseful, you won't know what's happening next. agent keane and the other fbi agents are great role models for kids. you must give this show a try. it is so good.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Teen, 15 years old Written byRockAndRollKid November 26, 2013

And okay show... Bloody but good for teens.

The blacklist is basicly about the worlds most wanted man captured and he helps the FBI search for other villains for freedom. The blacklist isn't gory but is pretty bloody. Plus there is shootings,stagings,and screaming in pain and even once in a while torture. Bullet holes are noticeable and blood comes out but isn't from an up close distance. Language is moderate with words like dam-,hell,as-,and bit-h. Plus exclamations of "Oh my god!" And "Jesus". Even in the beginning of the show it warns you about the violont content and viewers be advised. Out of all this is a crime drama that is okay and is good for younger teens 14+ on this one. Violonce: 4 and a half/5 Language: 2/5 Positive role models: 1/5 Everything else is 0/5 Thanks.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing