White Collar

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
White Collar TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fun odd-couple crime drama is tamer than you'd expect.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 21 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 41 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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.


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


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


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters occasionally drink alcohol in social situations.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10, 13, 15, and 18+-year-old Written byRebeccaAM June 23, 2018

Common Sense needs to revisit its reviews occasionally.

I'm giving this four stars because in general it is a good show, a lot of fun without gore and fairly clean--for a while. However, please be warned that t... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnne B. September 3, 2018

clean, appropriate yet exciting enough for older kids as well

It's hard to find a show the whole family can enjoy- too young, too scary, etc. White Collar fits the balance perfectly. It has drama and intrigue without... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRed Head August 20, 2020

Love This SHOW!

This is one of my favorite shows! It is generally okay for kids although a couple episodes in the later seasons can get a little PG-13! Violence is rare but thi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bybones1fan January 26, 2011
It really is unlike any other cop shows. And, let's face it, it's really hard to dislike Neal and Mozzie despite their "dark criminal past".... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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