A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Much about the history of the conflict between the U.S. and some Muslim countries, and about who Osama bin Laden was and what he did. Viewers also learn that officials entrusted with safety didn't always act in trustworthy ways.
Positive Role Models
Characters are complex, with a mix of good and bad qualities --e.g., John O'Neill, a dedicated and passionate opponent of anyone who would harm any American, has an unconventional personal life, with several long-term girlfriends and a wife and children.
Violence & Scariness
Drama centers around a terrorist organization and their acts. Expect many scenes in which men with guns raid underground rooms, characters are held at gunpoint, bombs are under construction or explode into huge fireballs, raining glass. The World Trade Center towers are hit by planes and collapse, killing thousands. Victims of bombings, including young children, are seen on stretchers with blood-soaked clothes, burned and hiding under debris.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man has a wife and children as well as two other long-term girlfriends. In one scene, he comes in and kisses a girlfriend and lifts her up in the air, whereupon she makes a quip about feeling his "gun." He lays her down on the couch and climbs on top of her before the camera cuts away.
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Vulgar language and cursing: "f--k," "a--hole," "s--t," "ass," "hell," "damn." Characters frequently relate to each other with affectionate profane abuse: "F--k you," "F--k you, too," is one exchange between colleagues.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults have wine and cocktails at dinners and parties; no one acts drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Looming Tower is a drama series about the rise of al-Qaida and anti-terrorism intelligence in America. Violence will likely be parents' main concern with this show. There are many scenes of disturbing violence, including terrorists and law-enforcement officials armed with large machine guns, shooting at crowds or raiding secret rooms, huge bombs that explode in fireballs that rain glass, towers on a recognizable New York City skyline being hit by planes and collapsing, and bomb victims (including children) cowering under debris with terrible burns. Aside from the violence, this show moves quickly and doesn't spoon-feed its history to viewers, who'll need to understand some basics about al-Qaida's history, the FBI, the CIA, and counter-terrorism intelligence in America in order to know what's going on. That said, viewers will learn a lot about the inner workings of espionage, law enforcement, and terrorism. Language is also frequent: Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole" and other vulgarities. A man is carrying on three separate relationships with women; we see him kissing each of them and in one scene, he lies on a couch after some sexy talk about his "gun." Adults have wine and cocktails at dinners and parties; no one acts drunk.
Is It Any Good?
Dark, complicated, and frightening, this complex and meaty drama fascinates by filling in the missing pieces in viewers' understanding of 9/11. We all watched the planes flying into the towers; we saw them come down; we witnessed filmed threats made against America by men in shadowy cabals. The Looming Tower tells the rest of the story: the officials who squabbled rather than cooperating, the agents who risked everything to bring back crucial pieces of intelligence that were then ignored, the missed connections and dropped loose ends that eventually led to the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
Not that those connections are easy to understand. Non-news-junkie viewers may have to watch with Wikipedia at the ready to understand who or what is "Louis Freeh," "I-49," "UBL," "EIJ." Turn on the closed-captions and get ready for some serious Googling. That said, just as The People vs. O.J. Simpson prised out intriguing detail in a story you thought you already knew, so does The Looming Tower shed new light on the inner workings of terrorism as the action zips from secret rooms where serious men make bombs with computer chips and empty plastic soda bottles to D.C. conference tables, where men in rumpled suits argue like kindergartners over their turf. It's fascinating -- and deeply frightening, even though you know where the story is ultimately headed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.