Vice Squad

TV review by
Anne Louise Bannon, Common Sense Media
Vice Squad TV Poster Image
Rough reality show about cops making arrests isn't for kids.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show is about police work -- specifically the vice squad -- so there's a lot of questionable behavior going on, although it's usually on the part of the suspects. The emphasis is more on the busts than on how the police work is done.


Guns are drawn repeatedly, and there's always the potential for violence. Suspects are often treated very roughly. In one instance, an officer pulls down a handcuffed suspect's pants, ostensibly as he's searching him.


Several prostitutes who are busted are shown in their revealing clothes. The nature of their profession also leads to discussion of condoms and other forms of protection.


Perhaps not surprisingly, there's a fair amount of bleeped language -- and in at least some instances, you can tell what the person actually said.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Most of the busts involve drug sales (such is the nature of the vice squad, after all), and there's discussion of the value of the various drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows vice-squad cops as they bust drug sellers, prostitutes, and the like -- isn't age-appropriate for young viewers. Guns are frequently drawn, suspects are often treated roughly/abruptly (including an instance in which two teen girls are asked to lie face down during the course of the arrest), and there's plenty of strong language -- although most of it is bleeped, you can often still tell what was said. The show also focuses much more on the actual busts than on the police work that precedes them, so it doesn't really offer much thoughtful insight into law enforcement.

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What's the story?

Much like the many other police reality shows that have preceded it, VICE SQUAD's cameras ride along with real-life cops from across the country as they arrest suspects in drug, prostitution, and gambling cases. The series' emphasis is solidly on the bust, rather than on the police work that preceded it, meaning there's a lot more action than insight.

Is it any good?

Ultimately, Vice Squad isn't very interesting -- after all, one arrest looks very much like another. Even segments that focus on "characters" like ditzy hookers are rather dull. The idea is to shock, but the result is so "been there, done that" that it just isn't that shocking. Nor do the officers come off looking that good. Their talk about how they're helping the world feels cheesy rather than noble, especially since some of them are masked (probably with good reason).

Add all of that to the fact that the show is full of references to illegal sex, drugs, gambling, and more, and you can see why this isn't exactly family-friendly viewing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether shows like this actually reflect the reality of police work. How much of the cops' daily lives do you think gets edited out to make the show "exciting"? And what do you think producers want viewers to take away when they watch? Do you think shows like this one can serve as cautionary tales? Why or why not?

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 6, 2009
  • Network: MyNetworkTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: NR
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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