Parents' Guide to

The Staircase

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Powerful acting, realistic gore in true crime series.

TV HBO Drama 2022
The Staircase television: Poster image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 18+

Great start, nudity & gore ruins it for me.

Quality show with highly skilled actors, but with brutal crime scenes, shown over and over, naked female corpse and full frontal images of men posing naked with erections in first episode. It’s embarrassing to type and even more so watching with your spouse. This should be called out as inappropriate and not beneficial in any way. You could do the show well, without the garbage. language is secondary but also many unwarranted f-bombs that are really unnecessary. not for kids and unnecessary for adults.
age 18+


Excellent show with wonderful acting, riveting plot, but way too much pornographic images and graphic sex scenes. Extremely tasteless and unnecessary. As another review mentions, there are nude pornographic photos of men that are shown repeatedly and more clearly as the episodes progress. There is also a pornographic movie shown in another scene, and a graphic scene depicting oral sex. So disappointed that an otherwise great show was ruined by such tasteless content. I guess that since porn has supposedly become mainstream, the creators of these shows expect viewers to want it included in their programs. I am deleting my account to HBO max because of this.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (4 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Startling and compelling, this true crime miniseries wrings new juice from a well-worn criminal case with deft and involving characterizations from a powerhouse cast. Make no mistake, The Staircase's deck is stacked: Not only are Toni Collette and Colin Firth given big, meaty, fleshed-out parts to illuminate, all the actors in this drama are making a meal out of even small parts and bringing them to vivid life. They have plenty to work with, too; in the hands of writer Maggie Cohn (American Crime Story) and showrunner Antonio Campos (The Devil All the Time), the members of the Peterson family emerge as fully realized characters, including Kathleen, which is rare in a media milieu in which the lives of female victims are often condensed to a few scenes in order to focus more fully on the horrible details of their deaths.

Instead, we see Kathleen at work, at home, with her family; she's imperfect and drinks too much and is sometimes cranky with her longtime husband and family members, but she also feels real, which makes the crime (or was it an accident?) all the more horrible to witness. Part of The Staircase's intrigue is that it walks through each possibility in the case -- Kathleen fell to her death, Michael bludgeoned her, she was attacked by predatory wildlife, and so on. It's fascinating to see the new light each version casts on facts, yet particularly the scenes that depict Kathleen accidentally falling are devastating. Bloody, disoriented, inebriated, she slips, falls, and then simply can't get up to save herself as she bleeds to death. It's a death that feels so real and relatable, viewers may find themselves wanting to hold onto their own bannisters extra-tight.

TV Details

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