The Fall



Serial-killer drama targets adults with sex and violence.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series is set in a dangerous world, where a terrifying killer can lead a double life as a seemingly devoted father and continue to claim victim after victim. On the other hand, law enforcement is dedicated and determined to solve the crime. Sexual power -- and politics -- is another major theme.

Positive role models

The main character is tough, intelligent, and successful in a typically male-dominated field and makes for a strong female lead -- though she’s far from perfect.


Serial killings involve repeated sexual violence against women; dead bodies with some blood, although most violence is psychological rather than gory; some characters carry weapons.


Prolonged scenes of steamy, simulated sex with minimal nudity; brief views of bare buttocks and breasts; implied rape and sexual violence.


Some four-letter words including "f--k."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink socially; secondary characters use illegal drugs such as cocaine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Fall is a gritty crime drama about the pursuit of a serial killer who's targeting women with sexual violence. Viewers can expect to see unsettling scenarios, including murder, with some blood, in addition to shootings and physical violence. The killer is sexually aroused by violence, and sex is simulated but suggestive, with brief shots of breasts and buttocks. You’ll also hear strong language such as "f--k" and see characters drink socially and use illegal drugs such as cocaine.

What's the story?

In the gripping crime drama THE FALL, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) has come from England to Belfast, Ireland, to review the police investigation of a politically sensitive murder. To her dismay, she not only discovers that the murder was part of a string of serial killings but also learns that simmering violence is part and parcel of Belfast living. Meanwhile, we meet Paul Spector (Fifty Shades of Grey's Jamie Dornan), a rumpled-handsome grief counselor, dad, and husband who has some extremely alarming extracurricular activities. Will Gibson catch up with Spector before he claims his next victim? Or will she get caught up in political infighting?

Is it any good?


Paul Spector is quiet as he listens to a bereaved couple relating their agony at losing their son, murmuring only a few calm questions as they talk. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine he’s really trying to help. But as the camera shifts, the viewer sees he’s doodling out a picture of the grieving mother topless -- a prime example of how The Fall shows instead of tells, with chilling results.

This show is binge watching at its best; it's at once compulsively watchable and intelligent, well-written and beautifully acted with compelling performances to boot. But make no mistake: It's not for kids, thanks to the disturbing nature of Spector's crimes and the show's frank portrayal of sexual acts. Even parents with older teens might want to think twice before giving them carte blanche to watch, much less binge-watch, with reckless abandon.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how The Fall explores the power dynamic between men and women, both in terms of how the male killer relates to his exclusively female victims and how the female cop heading the case functions in a predominately male work environment. 

  • What makes The Fall compelling viewing in spite of its disturbing subject matter? How does it rate as a realistic crime drama -- and does it matter? How do the show's characters compare to real-life cops and criminals?

  • How does The Fall play against other crimes dramas such as The Killing or Prime Suspect in terms of characters, tone, and intensity? Does the fact that it streams exclusively on Netflix allow it to do things other series can’t?

TV details

Cast:Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, Archie Panjabi
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Fall was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written bymoviemom5 December 29, 2013

Viewer beware, this is a disturbing show.

The review given by the website says older teens and adults could get “creeped out together” by this show. The review even described it as fairly non-violent. Watching women die, even if not in a Tarantino style, should still be considered violent. While it is very well produced I would not recommend this as casual viewing and if it were a movie I would expect it to be rated R. The sex scenes are juxtaposed with rape and violence, the main character’s dominance of her co-workers is compared with that of the sociopath, who is shown ritually murdering women and then returning home to bathe and feed his children. The story is deliberately disturbing and the series does not offer the viewer resolution at the conclusion of the season. The show is saturated with questions aimed at promoting relativism and the side-by-side shots of normal and abhorrent activities feels meant to cheapen human life and reduce all human actions to self-gratification. I found it overall a disturbing experience. Having been a fan of the Prime Suspect mini-series I gave this a try, but director of Prime Suspect's cinematic techniques were not used to promote a crass and cheap view of human life.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheRandomme13 July 28, 2013

It's an OKAY show

It shows a rapist raping women and killing them so i mean at that age in life you hear stories about it but I guess you would have to know what happens and i mean im 14 so to me it wuz nothing new so it really depends on how much you know and your maturity
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent of a 6, 6, 11, and 14 year old Written byopenparent November 24, 2013

Watch more than the first episode CSM

This is a very well done show, and the acting is extremely good. However, it seems as though common sense media only watched the first episode, as, almost immediately in the second episode, there is a prolonged, semi graphic sex scene. It's fully clothed but still. None the less, mature fourteen year olds, can definitely handle the show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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