The Hardy Boys

TV review by
Marina Gordon, Common Sense Media
The Hardy Boys TV Poster Image
Throwback drama is tense, a bit violent, with tween snark.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

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A lot or a little?

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

Stands out for positive messages.

Positive Messages

The value of family and siblings is the thread running through the series. Though the boys sometimes butt heads, their teamwork is the central to the show.

Positive Role Models

Brothers Frank and Joe, though they bicker, look out for each other and the people in their circle. They do put themselves in dangerous situations (especially for 12-year-old Joe), but presumably that makes sense since they want to find their mother's killer. Joe's brainy skills help them put together clues. Their group of friends is racially diverse.

Violence

The boys' mother dies in a car crash in the first episode -- viewers see her car upside down and the menace of someone tailing her aggressively. We also see fishermen shot on their boat and the boat exploding; neither is graphic but the results are obvious.

Sex
Language

The brothers talk to each other derisively sometimes, using such insults as "butthead" and "bite me, barf bag." Some kids call Joe "Joe Farty."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People in the crowd drink wine at the matriarch's mansion.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Hardy Boys is a re-imagining of Franklin W. Dixon's classic books (which were previously adapted for TV in the 1970s). Here, the boys are 12- and 16-year-old brothers Joe and Frank (Alexander Elliot and Rohan Campbell), whose mother has died violently. Further disrupting their lives, their police detective father uproots them from their home and relocates them for the summer to a small town where family lives and mysteries abound. Violent/scary moments include a member of a fishing boat crew getting shot and the boat getting blown up; later, the sole survivor from the boat holds a knife to Joe's throat. The brothers generally get along but do call each other names like "butthead," and younger brother Joe can be snarky to many adults (and kids).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGranolaMom February 28, 2021

Better Than Expected, But...

We are really enjoying this show. Our kids are various ages and all of them want to watch each following episode to find out what happens. The acting can be a b... Continue reading
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byianridd December 10, 2020

Dubious Storylines Mar a Pretty Good Yarn for Tweens

This is a pretty good blending of detective mystery and supernatural elements. The story and characters are drawn with a broad brush, but it is right on target... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySenorBigMack February 1, 2021

Great Actors, Couple Plot Holes

I loved watching this show with my family, not as much as stranger things or something like that, but it was still good. The acting (in my opinion) was what mad... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCinnamini December 11, 2020

Another season please

This show is so good, it's like Stranger Things but appropriate for kids! Great job Hulu!

What's the story?

In the latest incarnation of THE HARDY BOYS, the brothers (Frank, 16, and Joe, 12) face their mother's tragic death, which occurs after quickly establishing that she's extremely loving and involved in their lives. But they don't know that she was an investigative journalist who may have gotten tangled up with some very dangerous people. Their police detective father uproots them from their home in fictional Dixon City (named for the book series' author's pen name Franklin W. Dixon)  and relocates them for the summer to small town Bridgeport, where he and his late wife grew up, their families still live, and peril abounds. The boys enmesh themselves quickly in the local kid culture (set in the 1980s, they seem to be free of parents) and set to puzzling through the many mysteries that surround them, including who killed their mother. It's going to be a very full summer.

Is it any good?

This version of brothers Frank and Joe's adventures explores new territory (they're younger, their mother has died violently, it's set in the '80s), but ultimately feels stale but solid. Though possibly new to today's kids, The Hardy Boys' provenance goes back to pre-Depression days (a book series written by many authors under the name Franklin W. Dixon) and has seen many TV productions since the 1950s, most memorably in the late 1970s, when the brothers teamed up with Nancy Drew in a show that capitalized on Shaun Cassidy's heartthrob appeal. This latest is a Canadian production, set presumably in the 1980s, if we judge by the sepia tones, the soundtrack, old technology, and parent-free lifestyle of small-town kids. It feels nostalgic for parents and will remind today's kids of a less edgy Stranger Things.

The show dispatches the loving, grounding mother in the first act -- she's tailed in her car and, we assume, run off the road because she was an investigative journalist (a vocation hidden from her kids). In the small town of Bridgeport where they have to spend the summer, the boys immediately become friends with a cast of refreshingly racially diverse kids (and best bud Biff is now female). Getting entangled in many mysteries is to be expected, but their own mother's death is the central one, making the show more emotionally demanding than earlier series. Overall there's a comfortable, '80s-TV slowness to the show, the writing meanders, and the performances are serviceable. Alexander Elliot, as Joe, makes the biggest impression as a charismatic sass machine to brother Frank's (Rohan Campbell) stoic solidity. He's also like a mini-MacGyver who can pick any lock, knows Morse code, and picks up other handy skills with ease. Kids will be most likely to come back for his performance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why dead or missing parents are a staple of TV and movie drama. What type of viewer are dramas like The Hardy Boys hoping to appeal to? Why is a dead parent a common dramatic element?

  • What era is this drama set in? How can you tell? Consider costuming, dialogue, props, and settings in your answer. 

  • How do the characters in The Hardy Boys demonstrate curiosity, courage, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries

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