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 Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is a political action thriller starring John Krasinski (The Office, A Quiet Place) and inspired by Tom Clancy's series of best-selling books. The show depicts the CIA's search for the leader of a terrorist sect named Suleiman, splitting its time between office work in America and missions in Europe and the Middle East. The show spends a lot of time with Suleiman, his allies, and his family, so there are depictions of terrorism from the inside and the outside. Expect some pretty extreme action violence, with at least one shoot-out in each episode, as well as military bombings and terrorist acts. Though sex doesn't feature in the main storyline, the show does have female nudity and simulated sex acts. Although the show does attempt to create sympathetic Muslim characters, they never really transcend two dimensions, and Muslims are mostly depicted as violent terrorists.
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What's the story?
CIA analyst JACK RYAN (John Krasinski) discovers a series of bank deposits that lead him to believe that a terrorist named Suleiman (Ali Suliman) is planning an attack on the United States. After convincing his superior, James Greer (Wendell Pierce), of Suleiman's existence, Ryan is taken out from behind his desk and put into action in the field. He and Greer track Suleiman through the Middle East and Europe, attempting to catch him before he can launch his multimillion-dollar terrorist attack.
Is it any good?
John Krasinski is egregiously miscast as Jack Ryan, a relatively well-known character who's been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck -- actors who are believable in both the analyst and action hero sides of the character. Krasinski is, of course, best known for playing Jim Halpert on the American version of The Office, famous for mugging to the camera when his boss or co-workers say and do outlandish things. He brings an almost identical emotional palate to the character of Jack Ryan -- so much so that, after, say, wrestling an assault rifle away from a terrorist and threatening to blow him up with a grenade, it feels as if he's going to look directly out from the TV and crumple his face like a sad puppy. The show itself plays out as a relatively safe political thriller -- no jaw-dropping twists or unique insight into counterterrorism -- so without a believable and compelling hero at the center of the story, the whole thing is pretty dry. However, for fans of this genre who can deal with the weird casting, it's a tolerable entry into the Jack Ryan world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between the job that Ryan is trained to do and where he ultimately finds himself over the course of the show. Ryan starts as an analyst, an office worker, but is quickly called into the field and sees a lot of violent action. What would a realistic depiction of a CIA analyst look like? How does Jack Ryan differ? Are there ways that we see Ryan cope with the dangers that he has unexpectedly faced?
How does Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan depict Muslims and Middle Easterners? Do you think they're represented realistically? Does anything surprise you about these characters?
What do you think is the result of all the violence shown on the show? How does violence affect the lives of the characters? How do the "good guys" cope with performing violent acts? Do they any have regrets?
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.