The First 48

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
The First 48 TV Poster Image
Top-notch crime docudrama is too grisly for kids.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show's message is strongly anti-crime, with some empathy for everyone involved, including young suspects. That said, its content is all about violence and criminals.


Extremely graphic images of the aftermath of violence, including pools of blood, blood-spattered evidence, and real dead bodies. Some crimes include sexual assault details.


Occasional "ass" and bleeped "f--k."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some crimes are drug-related.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychristian2011 September 2, 2013

Emotionally and psychologically intense real life crime scene investigation documentary.

The First 48 is very similar to the popular TV show, CSI, but this is the real deal - no actors, no scripts - this is 100% real with graphic portrayals of crimi... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written bysuffacate April 20, 2011
Blood, gore, you see dead bodies... and the police that are investigating cuss a lot.

Very violent show - it's NON-FICTION, not fiction.
Teen, 17 years old Written bypleasedonotusey... October 20, 2020

no no no and no


this show is one of the most racist show I have ever seen. They only show cases where black people are the culprit. I have never in my l... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bydman15 December 18, 2020

Good way to teach your teens about the reality of our world now

C’mon parents. Yes, this show can at times be graphic, and there is swearing, drugs, and some gore, and some sexual content. but the crimes that are committed i... Continue reading

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?

TV details

  • Premiere date: June 3, 2004
  • Cast: Dion Graham
  • Network: A&E
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: DVD
  • Last updated: July 14, 2020

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