Parents' Guide to

True Detective

By Kari Croop, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Unsettling crimes make for complicated character studies.

TV HBO Drama 2014
True Detective Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 18+

Simultaneously Brilliant and Sick

This series is perfectly executed--amazing acting, directing, photography, script, score...a real home run. It is, however, disturbing on a level I have never before experienced. The graphic scenes of torture, incest, murder, sex, violence, and moments leading up to child molestation feature such powerful imagery, they are likely to pop into your head for quite some time to come. You will be disgusted at what your brain chose to retain. There is not a lot of hope or beauty in this series. It's interesting and compelling, but I think of these things in terms of payoff. If you go through the grisly to land on something soul-satisfying, the investment was worthwhile. If you come up feeling empty, though, what was the point in exposing yourself to the darkness? What was the point in sinking so much time into it? I expected the first "shock" scene to be the most disturbing, as a method for hooking the audience. It actually got darker after that, though. The season is so short that by the time I realized I was too sensitive for this show, I was already halfway through and figured I should power through to get the ending payoff. I should have considered it a sunk cost, though, because the final episodes were the most disturbing. Knowing this is how an adult feels about the series, you can imagine how inappropriate it would be for kids of any age. As a nearly 40-year-old "child," I would actually be embarrassed if my parents saw this and knew I had watched it. Certainly, there are plenty of adults who can handle it and would enjoy it. Like I said, it's brilliantly done. However, in order for an actual child to watch it and not be traumatized, they would have to be desensitized to the level of a future serial killer. No child of any age should watch this.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
1 person found this helpful.
age 16+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10):
Kids say (6):

Named in homage to a popular true-crime rag that debuted in the 1920s, True Detective isn't necessarily a period piece, although it does play with chronological structure via a series of flashbacks that bounce viewers back and forth between decades. It's definitely not a traditional crime drama either, thanks to creative choices that set it apart from competing crime shows and, in the end, make for smart, cerebral TV that's as challenging as it is chilling.

One of those choices is the decision to center each season on a separate murder case, involving different characters and casts from year to year, similar in structure to American Horror Story. That makes it hard to predict what kids will see on-screen -- and whether a new season will be as good as its predecessors. But judging from the show's first two seasons, it's a sure bet that adults are the intended audience.

TV Details

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