The Peacemaker: L.A. Gang Wars

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Peacemaker: L.A. Gang Wars TV Poster Image
Gang docu offers positive messages about peace, community.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series highlights the importance of ending gang violence and establishing peace and unity among primarily low-income and African-American communities in Los Angeles.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Malik Spellman is a former convict who now helps communities by risking his life to help broker peace agreements between warring gang members.


The focus on the show is on ending gang violence. Contains frequent discussions about gang shootings, murders, and retaliation. Occasionally gang members show off their bullet wounds.


Frequent curses like “f--k,” and “s--t,” are bleeped.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Contains occasional references to drinking and illegal drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this docuseries focuses on gang violence and one man’s efforts to end it. The overall message is positive, but it contains frequent references to shootings, murders, and other violent behavior. Drugs and alcohol are sometimes discussed. The show contains lots of strong language, with words like “s--t,” and “f--k” fully bleeped.

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What's the story?

L.A. GANG WARS: THE PEACEMAKER follows gang intervention and prevention expert Malik Spellman as he works with gang members in Los Angeles to diffuse violent situations and help create safer communities. Spellman spends his evenings in South Central Los Angeles meeting with rival gang members in an attempt to mediate peace agreements and end the hostility between them. Every meeting puts his life at risk, but he stays committed to keeping kids safe and giving them a violence-free future.

Is it any good?

The series, which is produced by rapper Ice-T highlights the attitudes surrounding gang activity that must change in order to end the violence, including concerns about appearing weak, and the desire for violent retaliation against other gangs. It also reveals some of the ways gangs organize and interact.

Some of the resolutions that take place on camera seem a bit simplistic, and one has to wonder if the gang members being featured here are playing up for the cameras. But the show’s messages about ending gun violence and the need for peace are very real.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about gang violence. What encourages young people to join gangs? Is gang violence is responsible for most violent crimes in the United States? Do you think Spellman can realistically end gang violence by simply talking to gang members? Why or why not?

  • Does the show feel authentic? How does a film crew affect people's behavior? Why would gang members agree to appear on camera?

TV details

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