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 this gritty crime drama makes little effort to sugarcoat its depiction of life on the mean inner city streets of Los Angeles. The criminals may be dangerous, but the cops are almost even more violent, and they aren't afraid to bend a few rules when it comes to extracting a confession from a suspect or forcing someone to rat out an accomplice. There are guns, drugs, sex, and plenty of swearing. It's realistic and well-done, but definitely not for kids.
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What's the story?
In THE SHIELD, Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) is an inner-city Los Angeles detective trying to keep the streets safe and put drug dealers away. He's often outgunned by bad guys toting some major firepower -- and almost always hobbled by his department's expectation that he respect his suspects' Constitutional rights. This absorbing police drama centers on Mackey's twin battles with criminals and the rule book. It's not quite accurate to call him a \"bad cop,\" but his willingness to flagrantly flout the rules, even in pursuit of a noble goal, also makes it hard to call him a \"good cop.\" Let's just call him a detective who gets the job done.
Is it any good?
The Shield clearly expects viewers to sympathize with Mackey, and he's often portrayed as just a big, cuddly teddy bear with his kids. But while it's certainly hard to side with the bad guys, it may be equally troublesome for many viewers to endorse Mackey's tactics. That debate, which has no resolution, is what makes The Shield such a watchable and thought-provoking adult drama. And adult is the right word for it -- between the frequent, often-graphic violence, strong language, and mature themes, The Shield isn't one for the kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the characters' efforts to get dangerous criminals off the street give them the right to break the law. These rough-and-tumble cops epitomize the "ends justify the means" debate, and one of the recurring plot lines centers on whether Mackey will be brought down by his flagrant violation of suspects' constitutional rights. Is he corrupt? How far is too far when it comes to getting information that will help crack a case?