A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this real-life homicide investigation docudrama features extremely graphic scenes and intense emotional moments. Bloody bodies and evidence are common sights, and suspects' reactions and behavior can be heartbreaking. Each episode features the details of several murders; some feature other violent crimes, as well, such as rape and aggravated robbery.
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What's the story?
THE FIRST 48 follows real cases from the moment homicide cops get the call through the next 48 hours (and sometimes beyond). Cameras follow investigators from around the country as they work on murder cases that range from a retaliatory killing in a Memphis high school parking lot to a botched robbery of a middle-aged man visiting Miami for his son's birthday. Each case begins with a call to the detectives, follows them as they investigate the crime scene, and stays with them as they search for clues to the murder weapon and the perpetrator. Viewers watch suspects' interrogations, hear phone calls from tipsters, see crime scene investigators process evidence, and hear from detectives as they deal with the often-emotional aspects of their work, from collecting a confession to receiving hugs from grateful family members when a suspect is arrested.
Is it any good?
Fans of crime docudramas will find The First 48 to be one of the best of its kind, with very high production values and unprecedented access to ongoing investigations. But be prepared for graphic scenes, including footage of dead bodies and blood. In the episode about the Memphis high school shooting, for example, viewers see the dead body of a 17-year-old boy slumped over in the passenger seat of a car and get a glimpse of a cell phone stained with blood.
In addition to the show's visually graphic elements, some scenes can also be very depressing -- such as arrest scenes that include family members looking on or confessions that clearly spell the end of freedom for a young person. Though The First 48's content isn't for younger viewers, certain episodes could provide reality checks for teens who are fascinated by crime dramas that glorify both violence and police work.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what they see on the show. Does anything the detectives do surprise you? What are the most effective methods for solving these crimes? Do you feel any empathy for the suspects? What are the extenuating circumstances of the crimes? What would it be like to be followed by a camera if you were a suspect or a victim's family member? How do you think the camera operators feel about their job? How does watching these real-life crime investigations differ from watching fictional ones on shows like CSI?