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The Red Line

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Red Line TV Poster Image
Heartfelt series explores racial bias, violence in Chicago.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Series addresses racial bias, political corruption, classism, other issues that make Chicago complicated and divided. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everyone is flawed in some way, and some characters make better decisions than others. 

Violence

A police shooting is catalyst for stories presented. Guns and bloody wounds. Physical assaults that include pushing, shoving, and slamming heads against a table. 

Sex

Some flirting and mild romantic exchanges between married couples, but feelings also reveal themselves as relationships develop. Teen pregnancy addressed.

Language

"Damn," "hell," "piss."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer drinking and shots visible. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Red Line is a dramatic miniseries that explores the political and racial tensions in Chicago. Race-related violence (including acts committed by police) is a key theme. A shooting death (with bloody gunshot wounds) and other physical assaults are visible. Words like "piss" and "damn" are audible, and drinking (beer, shots) is also visible. 

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What's the story?

THE RED LINE follows the stories of three very different families whose lives converge as a result of racial bias in the city of Chicago. After Officer Paul Evans (Noel Fisher), a young white police officer, shoots and kills unarmed black doctor Harrison Brennan (Corey Reynolds) during a convenience store robbery, Brennan's grieving widower, high school teacher Daniel Calder (Noah Wyle), tries to support their now-teenage adopted daughter, Jira (Aliyah Royale), often with the help of fellow teacher Liam Bhatt (Vinny Chhibber). But a rift between father and daughter emerges when Jira actively begins looking for ways to make sense of herself and the world around her as a young black woman. Meanwhile, South Side Alderman candidate Tia Young (Emayatzy Corinealdi) follows the story in the news, and finds herself thinking about her past connection with Brennan and Calder, much to the consternation of her husband, Red Line train conductor Ethan (Howard Charles). Officer Evans tries to cope with his mistake, while his brother Jim (Michael Patrick Thornton), a former police officer who was shot in the line of duty, and his partner, Officer Vic Renna (Elizabeth Laidlaw), offer him some misguided support. 

Is it any good?

This intense series highlights the complicated nature of Chicago's sociopolitical landscape through the personal stories of families impacted by it in very different ways. While it uses the all too frequent violent death of a black man at the hands of a police officer as the starting point for the three narratives, it underscores the fact that the shooting, and subsequent events, are occurring in a city that celebrates a uniquely rich history and long-standing traditions while simultaneously being guided by a corrupt and racially unequal system. It can be melodramatic at times, and the relationships between characters range from being awkward to predictable. But The Red Line is also heartfelt, and it attempts to offer a realistic portrayal of the history, politics, and culture dividing the city. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way racial bias is depicted in the media. How does race factor in to the way stories are told? How is race handled in The Red Line?

  • How can we recognize racial stereotypes in the media? Are these stereotypes only present in fictional narratives? 

TV details

For kids who love drama

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