TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
ZeroZeroZero TV Poster Image
Global drug trade series is violent, binge-worthy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It follows the complicated and dangerous world of the international drug trade, and the many kinds of people involved in it. Greed and death are major themes. There are few moral questions raised about what they are doing and why. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

While a few cast members are innocent bystanders, most are knowingly and actively involved in the illegal drug trade in some capacity. The Lynwoods are a close family. Manuel Contreras is a very sensitive man. The leaders of the ’Ndrangheta crime syndicates love their families, but some follow stricter moral codes than others. 


It contains lots of violent scenes, ranging from brutal beatings and paramilitary-type attacks to sounds of tortured screams. People are shown being executed, bludgeoned, and stabbed -- bloody lacerations, seeping bullet wounds, and bruises are frequently shown. A child is killed. Characters are shown drinking pig blood as a ritual. Dying from a fatal illness is also a theme. 


Sex is implicit in the story, and two scenes featuring simulated sex acts. Nudity is visible. Crude sexual references are uttered and prostitution is discussed. 


Contains lots of swearing, including many uses of the "F" word. There's cursing in Spanish and Arabic, too. 


The story revolves around the drug trade, and the money, power, and greed that comes with it. GMC, Chevrolets, and Range Rovers are prominently visible. Mazdas and other car makes and models are sometimes shown.  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

This show is about the drug trade. Cocaine is produced and distributed. Drinking and cigarette smoking is visible. References are made to snorting lines to stay awake. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the adult-oriented series ZeroZeroZero, which is based on the popular 2013 book of the same name, offers a dramatic interpretation of the inner workings of a global drug transaction. It follows three separate storylines as a shipment of cocaine deploys from Mexico, crosses the Atlantic Ocean, and is received by a powerful crime syndicate in Italy. This show features a lot of brutal, bloody violence, with characters shown being executed, bludgeoned, and stabbed, with graphic images like seeping bullet wounds, bruises, and bloody lacerations. A child is killed, and one character has a fatal illness. There is strong profanity, including lots of uses of the "F" word, and there's cursing in Arabic and Spanish, too. There are scenes of simulated sex acts, which include nudity. Prostitution is discussed. This show exposes various parts of the drug trade, specifically cocaine, which is produced and distributed. References are made to snorting lines to stay awake. Characters drink alcohol (wine, champagne, and other libations), and smoke cigarettes. Overall, this graphic drama is for mature viewers only. 

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What's the story?

Based on the 2013 true crime book by Roberto Saviano, ZEROZEROZERO is a fictional series that explores the complicated world of global drug trafficking. Edward Lynwood (Gabriel Byrne) owns a New Orleans-based shipping company, and works as a middle man who brokers drug deals between different clients. When the family business is threatened with economic ruin, his adult children, Chris and Emma (played by Dane DeHaan and Andrea Riseborough) are tasked with making sure a major cocaine shipment from the Mexican Leyra drug syndicate makes it to Don Minu LaPiana (Adriano Chiaramida), a ’Ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia) boss in Italy. The stakes are high, especially since Minu’s grandson, Stefano (Guiseppe De Domenico) is looking to seize control of the family. Making the situation more complicated is the chaos in Monterrey, where Special Forces leader Manuel Contreras (Harold Torres) is attempting to loosen the Leyras’ hold on the local drug industry. 

Is it any good?

This well-produced adaptation successfully weaves three separate narratives together as it follows the tumultuous international transit of a single cocaine shipment from start to finish. As each story moves forward, it reveals a web of kingpins, brokers, fixers, and other operatives that form part of the far-reaching and complicated global drug trade. Though few are innocent, many characters are interesting and multilayered, as they work to reconcile their personal lives while preserving power and profit. These intimate looks into their lives make it possible to forget that they are all playing a part in a vicious criminal enterprise where few can be trusted, and which inflicts endless collateral damage. But ZeroZeroZero never stops underscoring how the narcotics industry has become an intrinsic part of our international economic system, and how many people from around the world are involved in it. It's entertainingly addictive to watch, but also very disturbing. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way ZeroZeroZero portrays illegal drug smuggling and other gangster-related crimes. Do you think this show glorifies these activities? Does it affect the way you think about drugs, violence, and other criminal activities in real life? 

  • How do the Lynwoods justify their work? What about the different crime syndicates? What other than money motivates them? 

  • Is it possible to produce entertaining TV shows about violent subjects without showing a lot of destructive or brutal content? Do you think graphic scenes make a show more impactful or entertaining? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love crime dramas

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