The Blacklist

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Blacklist TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Twisty plots save violent crime drama from predictability.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 34 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, mostly in the background.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAn M. June 8, 2017
I saw the majority of season one and I was very interested in the story plot and the main character, but the bloody scenes and merciless violence were too much.... Continue reading
Adult Written byadamswifey December 8, 2019

very smart show - well written

I have watched all of the seasons so far and I don't remember any major sex scenes. And I'm pretty sensitive to that stuff. I would have turned it off... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEl.4nier December 18, 2020

Holy crap this is the best show ever made

I cannot find any words to explain how amazing this show is. It is phenomenal, extraordinary, unreal... This show has not only made my day, but my year. I’m cur... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bylovesdogs101 January 18, 2021

The Best Crime Show EVER!

I watched this when I was 11-12. I suggest 12 and up because I could handle violence and horror movies but others may not be able to. It's a great show abo... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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