The Chicago Code

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Chicago Code TV Poster Image
Crime-driven drama offers realism and strong female lead.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The city is portrayed as a gritty and dangerous place that largely runs on corruption. "Good guys" don't always win, and "bad guys" can get away with murder.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most police officers take their jobs seriously and routinely put their own lives in danger to protect others; some elected officials have ulterior motives. While the main characters adhere to a strict moral code in their professional lives and are actively trying to change the way things get done in the city, they sometimes falter when it comes to personal matters.

Violence

Guns, police raids, and other life-threatening situations. Some hand-to-hand combat. Dead bodies, but minimal blood.

Sex

Infrequent making out, implied sex.

Language

Audibles include "ass," "bitch," "pissed off," and "jackhole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Plots sometimes involve drug busts. Some social drinking.
 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this character-driven crime drama includes a lot of realistic action, including shootings, drug raids, and murders (although blood is kept to a minimum). Audible language includes "ass" and "bitch" (with more creative terms like "jackhole" thrown in for good measure). There's some social drinking, too, along with plotlines involving illegal drugs and implied sex.

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What's the story?

Set on the streets of the Windy City, THE CHICAGO CODE tracks the daily dramas of the Chicago Police Department, centering on Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals), the city's first female superintendent and highest-ranking police officer, and Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), her former partner and one of the CPD's most valued detectives. As the plot progresses, they keep a collective eye on Ronin Gibbons (Delroy Lindo), a powerful alderman with unclear motives, to determine whether he's working with them or against him. But Wysocki's also adjusting to a new partner (Todd Williams) and doing his best to shield his niece (Devin Kelley) from harm.

Is it any good?

With so many other crime dramas on television, it's easy to assume that we don't need another one. But The Chicago Code succeeds in giving viewers complex characters and a real sense of place that help make it a stand-out series. Beale and Clarke are well-cast and excellent, but it's even more impressive when you consider that Clarke -- who played a mightily convincing Rhode Islander in Brotherhood and, now, a completely believable Chicagoan -- actually hails from Down Under. And as a duplicitous politican, Lindo seems like he's having a blast.

The ensemble approach helps keep things interesting and adds dimension and depth to the plot, but there might be one drawback to shadowing so many characters at once: At least early on, you don't really learn much about their personal lives. But perhaps the important thing is that you want to, which is a credit to compelling writing and strong performances.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role that violence plays in the show's plot. Is it generally gratuitous or realistic? How does the level of violence compare with other crime dramas on television?

  • What message is the show sending about the level of corruption in government? Does the show exaggerate reality for the sake of drama, or do its plots seem believable?

  • Given the day-to-day struggles of the show's police officers and the dangers they face, would you consider a career in law enforcement? What motivates cops to do the work they do?

TV details

For kids who love drama

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