A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Night Of is a gritty dramatic series about the investigation and prosecution of a violent murder. A bloody crime scene with a corpse is often visible, and various activities using a knife are both visible and described. There's also some strong sexual innuendo and blunt discussions of sexual activity. Cursing is frequent, and drinking and drug use are visible. Racism and bigotry are addressed, especially as they relate to the Muslim community.
What's the story?
Based on the BBC series Criminal Justice, and co-produced by the late James Gandolfini, THE NIGHT OF is an HBO miniseries about a young man who finds himself in the center of a complicated murder case after an unplanned evening with a stranger. Nasir "Naz" Khan (Riz Ahmed) is an awkward college student living in Queens with his traditional Pakistani-American parents. After being invited to a party hosted by a member of the college basketball team, he borrows his father's taxi cab to go downtown. But after unexpectedly meeting and spending the evening with a young woman (played by Sofia Black D'Elia) on the Upper West Side, Naz finds himself under arrest for murder. While Detective Dennis Box (Bill Camp) tries to get him to confess, seasoned defense attorney John Stone (John Turturro) sees that he desperately needs someone with smarts to help him. As Naz waits behind bars on Rikers Island, the investigation and legal system slowly grind forward.
Is it any good?
This dark, somber drama takes a close look at the process by which a complex murder case is investigated and tried. The calm and deliberate presentation of the narrative, uniquely offered without the help of background music to move it along, acts as a call to viewers to pay close attention. As a result, audiences are immediately given the chance to acknowledge things ranging from obvious anti-Muslim bigotry to tiny details that could have a major impact on how the case is resolved.
The ongoing sense of melancholy and despondence that permeates the story's world creates an experience that can be both disturbing and mentally exhausting. However, this is exactly what it's going for, as it's designed to reproduce the slow, and often grim, process of navigating the criminal justice system. But the weightiness of it all doesn't overwhelm the well-written, well-rounded detective story that it offers and that will no doubt satisfy fans of the genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the criminal justice system. Why is it so slow? Does everyone get a fair trial? How can someone who is innocent spend so much time in jail or even be found guilty? Do TV shows accurately represent what going through this process is like?
Families can also talk about racism and stereotyping. How are they addressed in this series?