The Confession Tapes

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Confession Tapes TV Poster Image
Crime investigation docu has cursing, violent themes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Investigative work can potentially include illegal interviewing and other tactics. 

Positive role models & representations

Investigators employ tactics that some courts claim are illegal. 

Violence

Murder discussed extensively. Gruesome images of bloody corpses, crime scenes. Descriptions of assaults, clubbing, etc. 

Sex
Language

Words like "bastards"; cursing ("s--t," "f--k") frequent.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Images of wine and beer. Cigarette smoking visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Confession Tapes is a documentary series that examines cases where people convicted of murder claim that their confessions were manipulated, coerced, or false, as well as questionable investigative activities by law enforcement. It contains lots of disturbing conversations about violent crimes, including murder, as well as bloody, gory images of crime scenes and corpses. There's lots of cursing, too. Wine and beer are occasionally visible, and cigarette smoking is shown. 

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What's the story?

THE CONFESSION TAPES is a crime documentary series that examines cases where people convicted of murder claim that their confessions were manipulated, coerced, or false. Each case features interviews with investigators, lawyers, wrongful conviction experts, and family and friends close to those involved. Archived media footage adds to the overall narrative of the crime. The documentary also features audio and video recordings of interviews conducted by law enforcement with the accused, as well as conversations that were secretly recorded while they were working undercover. Throughout it all, the legality of when and how suspects' confessions were obtained, and how it impacted the outcome of their cases, is discussed. 

Is it any good?

This disturbing and sometimes grim documentary raises questions about the way law enforcement uses specific tactics to extract information from suspects. Viewers get an in-depth look at how investigators extract information from people during each investigation, which ranges from detaining suspects and questioning them at a station to "befriending" a suspect while undercover to get them to talk. The legality of these processes is discussed, as is the impact each process has had on the prosecution's ability to convict the defendant. 

It's hard to deny the tabloidish, somewhat exploitative aspect of the film, thanks to gory crime scene images and some short reenactments. But this doesn't take away from some of the larger questions it poses about how far investigators are willing to go to extract information or obtain a confession in an attempt to make an arrest and secure a conviction. Folks who like investigation-focused series will find The Confession Tapes worth watching. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the reasons people agree to appear on documentaries like The Confession Tapes to talk about disturbing events. Is it to help someone who they feel is being unfairly treated? To criticize law enforcement? For attention? 

  • The Confession Tapes offers a troubling look at how law enforcement behavior can negatively impact people's lives. But are the tactics featured here commonly used? What are some of the concerns this documentary raises about people who are convicted of a crime? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 8, 2017
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming

For kids who love mysteries

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