06/26/2015 02:35 pm ET Updated Jun 25, 2016

At What Age Is It OK for My Teen to Watch Movies or TV Shows With Drug Use, Such as Breaking Bad?

By Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media parenting expert Caroline Knorr answers questions about parenting, media, and everything in between.

Q: At what age is it OK for my teen to watch movies or TV shows with drug use, such as Breaking Bad?

A: The producers of Breaking Bad probably didn't realize how the show would take off with teens. It has very mature themes -- drugs, violence, sex -- which is why Common Sense rates it for teens over 17. But the core of the show is about moral ambiguity, the choice between right and wrong, and, to some extent, love. These are all themes teens are naturally curious about exploring.

Because of that, Breaking Bad presents a challenge for parents. It's a high-quality, critically acclaimed program that's attained cultural phenomenon status. On the other hand, it has tons of illegal activities that aren't always met with appropriate consequences.

This is probably a perfect example of how families must make individual choices based on their kids' maturity and their own family's values. If your teen is interested, try to watch together. Check our review for ideas on conversation starters.

More Parenting Q&As at Common Sense Media
What Should I Say to My Kids About Online Videos of Famous Stars Smoking Pot?
What's the Impact of the E-Cigarette and Vaping Industry on Kids?
Should I Worry That My Kid Loves Celebrity Show Characters Who Binge-Drink?

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at