White Collar

Common Sense Media says

Fun odd-couple crime drama is tamer than you'd expect.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The take-away is that a criminal's mind can be put to use for a good cause. Friendship and teamwork are reinforced.

Positive role models

While one of the main characters has a criminal past (he's a convicted bond forger who escapes from jail and proceeds to lie, steal, and swindle his way back onto the grid), his counterpart is a law-abiding FBI agent who help keep his baser instincts in check. The criminal agrees to use his know-how to help the feds catch other bad guys. On the downside, the show's female characters aren't particularly complex.

Violence

Some characters carry guns; occasional explosions, but blood is rare.

Sex

Some sexual innuendo (for example, the use of a phrase like "between the sheets") and kissing, but it's pretty light.

Language

Some "gateway" words ("damn," "hell"), but they're rarely used.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adult characters occasionally drink alcohol in social situations.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this character-driven crime drama is a lot lighter on language, sex, and violence than you might expect, making it a solid choice for parents and teens. There's essentially no swearing -- it's rare to even hear a "hell" or a "damn" -- and the sexual content is tamer than comparable shows. Alcohol consumption is equally scarce, and when it happens it's generally in a social setting and involves adult characters.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When convicted bond forger Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) stages an early exit from prison (i.e., he escapes), Peter Stokes (Tim DeKay) -- the FBI agent who spent three years of his life putting Neal behind bars -- promptly throws him back in the slammer. But instead of staying locked up, Neal suggests a tempting alternative: He'll put his criminal mind to work for the feds while wearing a tracking device that limits his mobility. As the pair tests out their tenuous partnership, Neal rents a room from a wealthy widow (Diahann Carroll), reconnects with a former associate (Willie Garson), and helps Peter score points with his wife (Tiffani Thiessen).

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The whole "bad guy works with the good guys to catch bad guys" schtick has been done many times before -- and rather successfully, to boot (most notably in Martin Scorsese's Oscar winner The Departed). So why do we need another also-ran? Well, for one thing, because this one is pretty darn entertaining. Once the main characters strike a bargain and begin working together to find an elusive forger, the real fun begins. (That said, the female characters leave a bit to be desired.)

You might not have heard of Bomer or DeKay before (they're best known for their work on Chuck and Tell Me You Love Me, respectively), but that doesn't mean they lack the charisma to sell every line they're given -- particularly in their scenes together. Whether the ongoing story line keeps audiences interested remains to be seen, but based on tone, premise, and execution, this one's got a fighting chance.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's relatively low levels of sex, violence, and language. Can you imagine a racier, more violent version of this show? Would it be more or less enjoyable? Why?

  • Have you seen this good guy/bad guy buddy formula before in television or on the big screen? Why does it work? What does this series do to liven up the idea?

  • What do you make of the show's female characters? Do they play a prominent role in the proceedings?

TV details

Cast:Matthew Bomer, Tiffani Thiessen, Tim DeKay
Network:USA
Genre:Drama
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of White Collar was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 17 year old Written byPC Doctor March 6, 2011
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Not appropriate for anyone anymore.

I did love the show until Neal used God's name in vain. I have banned this show from our house.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byfloridagators02 March 26, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Perfect for Teens

I LOVE this show. Its a great show for teens, and isn't TV-14 like CSI or NCIS. Its very clean, good entertainment.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 16 years old Written byKerin December 5, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
I really, really love this show.It's one of the four shows I never miss. The charcters are great and the dialog is awesome. I also love the bond between Peter and Neal.It's entertaing and amusing to watch. They trust each other and are good partners and boarding on good friends. The only issue I have ever had with the show is in the episode the episode Books of Hours. they used God's name in vain by saying GD. However, it was a mob boss using the term and based on the 'regular' charcters history for swear words I think it was probably a one time thing simply for that one charcter.

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