White Collar TV Poster Image

White Collar



Fun odd-couple crime drama is tamer than you'd expect.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Network: USA
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2009

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.


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.

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.

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.

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

Premiere date:October 23, 2009
Cast:Matthew Bomer, Tiffani Thiessen, Tim DeKay
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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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

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

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
Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written bygabajoran February 5, 2010
When I looked at ratings for this show I noticed that only kids had reviewed it. As a parent, I'm always more interested in what other parents think of a show. Our whole family has watched White Collar since it's first episode. My youngest child is a 12 year old girl. The show is entertaining and has interesting characters. The FBI agent's marriage is often a topic in the show and portrayed well. The characters are honorable. The "bad" guy isn't really so bad and is actually quite likable. The show is mildly funny and there are twists in the plots to keep viewer interest. As family shows go, this one is a keeper for our family. Even my husband will watch it and enjoy it and he generally prefers DVDs of Gunsmoke and Hawaii Five-O more than current shows.
What other families should know
Great messages