The anticipated TV series Defending Jacob, starring Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery, was released on Apple TV+. Is Defending Jacob kid friendly? It’s rated TV-MA, so there is language, graphic images, and heavy content. Here’s what parents need to know if kids or teens are asking to watch Captain America in this new suspenseful miniseries.
Is Defending Jacob Kid Friendly?
Defending Jacob is based on the 2012 New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. Some teens will recognize the two big stars’ names – Chris Evans from Marvel movie popularity, and Michelle Dockery, Lady Mary from Downton Abbey.
Chris Evans plays Andy Barber, an assistant district attorney that must now fight to save his son who has been accused of murdering another boy and classmate in their small Massachusetts town. Pretty much every parent’s worst nightmare.
Questions are raised about whether Jacob Barber could have committed this crime and you’re in for a roller coaster of emotions between all parties involved.
In this Defending Jacob Parent Guide, we’ll look at language, violence, and mature content in this 8-episode series.
Being TV-MA, Defending Jacob is heavy on language. In the first 3 episodes there were at least 10 uses of the f-word, 7 uses of sh–, a few damns, a couple of a-holes, you get the idea. There are also a lot of uses of the Lord’s name in vain like Jesus Christ and G-ddammit. Other crass words like dick and fa-got are used.
The show is about a murder, and in the first episode you see a dead body (a juvenile) close up that is bloody. No actual killing is shown, but there is a weapon and many discussions about the murder. There is also a lockdown at school, so some kids may be sensitive to that material, especially if they are easily upset about similar events.
As episodes continue, there is more violence, nothing extremely gruesome, but a car accident and talk of bullying.
Episode 5 is where Defending Jacob really earns its TV-MA rating. There is partial nudity between two people as they start to unclothe each other and passionately kiss. You see a little side boob.
Also a young girl takes a topless selfie and you see her bare back. There is also talk of a cutter adult site, a blow job, and name calling like slut. Also be aware of some teen drug use.
Heavy topics and content like murder, internet safety, violent genes, molestation, lying, bullying, prison, dysfunctional family relationships and the justice system are prevalent in Defending Jacob. There are also some sexual jokes like “that’s what she said” and also a joke implying masturbation.
Is Defending Jacob OK for Teens?
I err on the more conservative side of what I’ll allow my kids to watch, so my teens won’t be watching, but there are some worthy parent/teen discussions here.
Depending on what your concerns are, Defending Jacob could be appropriate for teens, but it’s dark. Did this need to be TV-MA? No, there are unnecessary things that could have easily been eliminated, but it is what it is.
Defending Jacob is emotional from every angle, and I found myself more sad than intrigued as the story progressed. As a parent it’s hard to watch. I was constantly asking myself what I would do in different situations.
The production value is outstanding, and although at times it felt like episodes of Law & Order, it was definitely not a Law & Order budget. The first three episodes are a buildup with a lot of background information. I wish they didn’t offer quite so much information.Thankfully the series got a lot meatier with more conflict and drama.
The acting chops alone make this series worth watching.
Chris Evans, yes, Bearded Cap without a shield, is entertainment enough for this quarantine life. But he’s also a good actor without the shield, especially capturing the anguish of a father trying to do the right thing by his son.
Michelle Dockery killed me with her portrayal as Laurie Barber, Jacob’s mother, constantly blindsided and nailing the sense of loneliness and heartbreak when her family is shunned by the town. Plus there is that sense of moral obligation to everyone.
Defending Jacob is worth the free year of Apple TV+ I got with my iPad. Sorry you can’t binge with the free week trial (or that you can’t binge the whole series at once), but I’d also still pay for a couple of months to see how Defending Jacob ends.
Stretched out a bit too long, Defending Jacob still offers smart entertainment that keeps the audience in suspense. I wish Defending Jacob was more kid friendly to involve the teens, but it’s way better than Tiger King.
The first three episodes of Defending Jacob were released on April 24, 2020, and the other episodes will be released on the following dates:
Episode 4 – May 1
Episode 5 – May 8
Episode 6 – May 15
Episode 7 – May 22
Episode 8 – May 29