The Killing

 
Gripping crime drama takes place in grimly realistic world.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The messages are grim, but realistic: Bad things can happen to good people; those in power aren't always trustworthy; and justice can take a long time -- if it happens at all.

Positive role models

Most characters are hiding secrets of some kind. And while law enforcement officials are generally loyal to their jobs and dedicated to the case, one uses unorthodox methods -- giving marijuana to teenagers -- to glean critical information.

Violence

Ominous crime scenes yield disturbing moments, blood, and dead bodies, although visuals aren't excessively gory. Some crimes are of a sexual nature.

Sex

Passionate kissing, sexual innuendo, and implied sexual activity via bared skin, although no sensitive body parts are shown. Rare episodes show thrusting. Prostitution is a theme.

Language

Unbleeped language includes "s--t" (but not "f--k"), plus iffy hand gestures, and audible terms like "damn," "ass," and "prick."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Mostly background social drinking and cigarette smoking. But in one scene, a cop offers marijuana to teenage girls and makes sure they inhale to get them to offer up information about the case.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the mood of this crime drama is pretty grim, but that's due largely to an overarching sense of foreboding rather than grizzly violent scenes and blood (though there is some of that, too). In fact, sometimes what you aren't seeing is more disturbing than something intentionally graphic. There's unbleeped swearing, too (in the form of "s--t" but not "f--k"), along with audible language like "ass" and "prick," and some sexual content that's more implied than overt.

What's the story?

A remake of the Danish television series Forbrydelsen, THE KILLING examines a murder investigation from three different angles, splitting the perspectives of the killer, the detectives, and the victim’s grieving family. In the series premiere, Seattle teenager Rosie Larsen goes missing on homicide detective Sarah Linden’s (Mireille Enos) last day on the job before a planned move to a new life in California. But while Sarah works with her restless replacement (Joel Kinnaman) to find the girl, they uncover a body -- and a suspicious connection to a local politician (Billy Campbell).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The fact that The Killing is nothing like other crime dramas on American television is a welcome relief. After all, between multi-city franchises (sorry, CSI and Law & Order) and tired formulas (that's aimed at you, Criminal Minds), they are beginning to blend woefully together. So while The Killing is hardly a novel concept to the Danish people, at least, it feels like a revelation to us.

Imagine a really good movie that never ends, a riveting crime drama with good writing and seamless casting that (yes, oddly) lasts for months. By following a single murder case over the course of a season, that's kind of what The Killing becomes. Noticeably absent though are the manipulative "gotcha" moments and lingering shots of crime scenes and corpses we've come to expect from the genre...which doesn't mean you'll really be missing them.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence and the way this show portrays the world around us. Are shock-value scenes necessary to make fictionalized crimes seem real? Is it more upsetting to contemplate the violence that you aren't seeing?

  • How does this show compare to other TV crime dramas? Does it do anything differently in terms of structure or storytelling that sets it apart?

  • Does the series reflect reality in terms of the nature of crimes committed in the United States? Does it take a position when it comes to good vs. evil? Is the outlook generally positive or negative?

TV details

Cast:Billy Campbell, Joel Kinnaman, Mireille Enos
Network:AMC
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of The Killing 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.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

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.

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

Kid, 12 years old March 9, 2014
age 15+
 

Intense

This is my favorite TV show. It can get violent, and the sexual situations can be a bit much at times, but if you can handle it, it's entertaining enough to keep you hooked. Better for mature kids 13+, otherwise good for 15+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old August 7, 2012
age 13+
 

Common Sense Media, you're joking?

AGE 16? SERIOUSLY? i don't really watch this show, but it seems OK!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byChickenPoyo June 22, 2015
age 18+
 

Warning : In season 4 it becomes very mature

The show was dark and gritty before, but since it moved to Netflix in season 4 the show has free will and has the F bomb and pretty explicit and disturbing sex scenes, including forcing a kid to masturbate to a picture of his mother. Not safe for kids at all.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

Poll

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

Digital Compass