The First 48 TV Poster Image

The First 48



Top-notch crime docudrama is too grizzly for kids.

What parents need to know

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.

Not applicable

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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some crimes are drug-related.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of The First 48 was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 criminal acts and behavior. It follows the daily lives of experienced homicide investigators with their cases and work which involves attempting to chase and apprehend the murder suspect, talk to potential witnesses or family members of the suspect, and give the victim's families the shocking news - the murder of their loved one, turning into a dramatic and grieving reality. As you know, this show deals with mature subject matter and very dark themes, such as the details and implications from the certain crimes range from 1st degree murder, armed robbery, rape, torture, home invasion, drugs, abuse, and gang wars. The strong language is beeped since it's a TV-14 rated show, but there's unbeeped uses of d*mn, h*ll, sh*t, b*tch, and b*stard. There's some episodes that deal heavily and graphically with drugs and alcohol related issues and crimes - criminals that abuse or kill to obtain certain drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, meth, ecstasy, and prescription pills. It is NOT a show intended for children to watch and is way much darker than your average CSI show. Older teens and up should be fine if they can handle the dark themes. Violence (3/5) Language (3/5) Drugs (5/5) Sex (0/5) Intensity (4/5)
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
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.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byRango813 March 20, 2013

Please Use Spell Check

I don't want to be that snobby person on CSM, but if you're going to do a professional review site, please know the correct usage of words. The word is "grisly". "Grizzly" is describing a bear. Hope this helps :)
What other families should know
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?