The Cleaner

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Cleaner TV Poster Image
Drug/addiction-focused adult drama isn't for kids.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

There are no cut-and-dried heroes here. The main character -- a former drug addict who made a deal with God and now helps other addicts -- is a complicated role model. And he's far from perfect when it comes to his personal life. Other characters (the addicts the main character helps) routinely do things like steal from family members to fuel their habits.


Occasional physical violence between characters involving small amounts of blood. The main characters don't use guns, but others do.


Plenty of sexual innuendo, but nothing graphic shown. One female character is particularly sexual; for example, she talks about "dropping trou," makes a veiled reference to the size of a man's genitalia, and slept with her boss while he was separated from his wife.


Pretty tame, but words like "ass," "hell," and "damn" are audible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The show centers on various forms of addiction, so the drug and alcohol content runs the full gamut. Characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, as well as smoke crystal meth, shoot heroin, and more.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, due to the drug/addiction-focused subject matter, this show isn't age appropriate for tweens or younger teens. Main characters smoke cigarettes and drink -- but that almost seems beside the point considering that plenty of others snort and shoot heroin, rob their parents to fund their crystal meth addictions, and worse. For the most part, sexual content stays at the innuendo level, although the sexual tension between certain characters is palpable enough. Some swearing along the lines of "ass" and "damn," and some physical scuffles and gun use.

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What's the story?

In THE CLEANER, Benjamin Bratt stars as "extreme interventionist" William Banks, a former drug addict who reformed after a heart-to-heart with God and now spends his time helping other users turn their lives around. His team of so-called "cleaners" includes Akani Cuesta (Grace Park), a curvy beauty he once slept with; Arnie Swenton (Esteban Powell), a Mohawk-sporting hipster with a penchant for complaining; and Darnell McDowell (Kevin Michael Richardson), a good-natured car salesman who owes William a debt of gratitude. Waiting at home are William's wife (Amy Price-Francis), who's seen her husband at his best -- and worst -- and two kids (Brett Delbuono and Liliana Mumy), who wish they saw their dad more.

Is it any good?

Inspired by the work of a real-life interventionist, The Cleaner has a unique concept. And Bratt has a respectable track record when it comes to attracting fans. But the series is hindered by a sluggish script, confusing dialogue, and characters who aren't fully formed. Plus, some of the situations the cleaning crew sets up to bail out the addicts are over-the-top at best and ridiculous at worst. Bottom line? Chances are that, like the 70-odd percent of addicts Banks says will return to their old habits after an intervention, The Cleaner will relapse into obscurity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the dangers of addiction and the many different forms it can take, from drugs and alcohol to sex. Can someone be seriously addicted to other things that are legal and seemingly harmless, like the Internet or coffee or working too much? What factors determine whether something's just a part-time hobby or a full-blown addiction? How/when do you know you have a problem? Teens: Do you know someone who struggles with substance abuse? Have you ever tried to help them? What happened?

TV details

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