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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
Salacious Violence Really Warps Your Sense of the World
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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?
- Premiere date: September 23, 2013
- Cast: Diego Klattenhoff, James Spader, Megan Boone
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: March 11, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Top of the Lake
Cinematic mystery series explores sex, violence, and sorrow.
Dark, criminally good legal thriller. Adults only.
A strong female lead anchors gripping crime drama.
For kids who love drama
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