The Expanse

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Expanse TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Great writing in dark sci-fi thriller for teens and up.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Diverse cast sends message of unity across race and age. Women are shown in positions of power; characters debate complex moral issues. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Complex, interesting characters make poor role models; even "heroic" characters make mistakes and are mainly self-interested. 


Dead bodies with blood and gore are shown; police officers beat up uncooperative suspects; astronauts are suddenly, brutally injured by space debris; the camera lingers on a severed arm. Guns brandished and fired. High-ranking officials resort to torture to realize their ends. Characters are killed suddenly.


References to prostitution and stripping; one planet has a red-light district with girls strutting in lingerie; characters have zero-gravity sex in space with moaning and thrusting; vulgar words for sex such as "banging." 


Cursing, including multiple uses of "s--t" and "hell" as well as "a--hole." Vulgar language such as "piss-poor"; invented insults such as "long-bone."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters living in space feverishly trade growth serums and hormones. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Expanse is a dark sci-fi thriller about a future society with warring factions on other planets and in space. Characters are killed suddenly on-screen; the camera lingers on severed body parts, blood, and gore. Expect space disasters: A ship is blown up with nuclear weapons; men are brutally injured by space debris. Guns and futuristic weapons are brandished and fired. Characters drink beer and cocktails in bars and trade legal and nonlegal growth hormones and serums. Also expect cursing: multiple uses of "s--t" and "hell" with the occasional "a--hole." Characters have sex (showing nude male and female backsides) with thrusting and moaning; references to prostitution include a red-light district with posing women in lingerie. Heroic characters do immoral things to realize their ends. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjasondowner March 16, 2019

Seriously? Stop ruining TV shows.

Why do we need pornography in our TV shows? Who does that appeal to? Some gross pig? Definitely not me. I'm getting really sick of not being able to watch... Continue reading
Adult Written byfairytopiatown May 24, 2019

Nudity, sex and explosions

Nudity, sex and explosions in the shows or movies is not ok when you have kids in the house. It's just wrong and the writers are sick in the head for writi... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2021

its not that bad

its a good show sure there s a little bit of cursing and blood but his show is amazing for sc-fi fans a MUST SEE for kids 12 or 13 or if you can handle it
Teen, 13 years old Written byd0vq December 25, 2020

Amazing Sci-Fi Show

This review is mostly based on Season 1 because the rest of the show to date is more or less the same in terms of age rating.

--General Series Review--

The E... Continue reading

What's the story?

Two hundreds years from now, Earth has colonized THE EXPANSE between us and the sun. Now, galactic peace is administered by the U.N., and humans live mainly in three areas: Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Water and air are more precious than diamonds or gold, and it's during an ice-harvesting run when James Holden (Steven Strait), captain of ice freighter Canterbury, is involved in an incident that causes nearly its entire crew to be wiped out. Meanwhile, on the asteroid Ceres, Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) is given an assignment to find Julie Andromeda Mao (Florence Faivre), the daughter of a wealthy asteroid belt CEO, who's gone missing and is feared kidnapped; and on Earth, U.N. official Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) is investigating radicals on Mars. What the three don't know yet is that Mao's disappearance is connected to a conspiracy that doesn't only threaten life on Earth but will have consequences for every human life in the galaxy. 

Is it any good?

Smart, beautifully written, and intriguingly sketchy on details, this sci-fi drama rises above the usual with well-thought-out details and deft characterization. Soap operas in space are a dime a dozen, particularly after the success of Battlestar Galactica. Since that well-regarded drama ended, Syfy has continually tried to recapture its magic, usually to no avail. But this time, the network may have cracked the code. We've met many of the characters in The Expanse before -- the conflicted cop, the politico who does terrible things to keep even more terrible stuff from happening -- and we're familiar with dramas that basically boil down to someone having a doomsday device, which this does.

But the fine writing here makes the usual unusual. Characters are complex and act in unexpected (yet recognizably human) ways; the view gets a sense that these are not only actors mouthing move-the-plot-along lines but real people living lives we can scarcely conceive of. There's class warfare (Earth denizens are the "haves"; the Belters working out in the asteroids the "have-nots"), a pulpy detective plot line, space-exploring derring-do, political intrigue, and, tying it all together, overarching environmental issues (for example, how are we going to take care of all these humans?) that ring familiar to modern viewers. The Expanse is smart, intriguing drama for sci-fi fans and perfect for whole-family watching with teens and up. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Science-fiction dramas like The Expanse are frequently set in space. Why? What types of plot lines does this setting lend itself to? 

  • What's the difference between science-fiction series and movies? What types of stories can be told in a movie vs. episodically on television? Which do you prefer? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate