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TV Series Review

Ten years ago, the Warren family suffered the unthinkable. Claire and John Warren's 9-year-old boy, Adam, was abducted. And even though his body was never recovered, their neighbor, Hank, was convicted of Adam's kidnapping and murder.

Now the Warren family is faced with something even more unthinkable. Adam—the little boy, proven in court to be dead—has come home. Alive.

Happy ending, right? Hold the phone there, pardner. Nothing—particularly on this ABC serial—is ever that simple.

The Family That Strays Together

Since Adam's been away, family matriarch Claire has become a powerful politician in the state of Maine, campaigning on a platform of family values. She's running for governor now, and Adam's remarkable return is remarkably fortuitous for Red Pine's mayor and her political aspirations.

But despite Claire's public love of family in the political arena, her private one is in rough shape. Husband John resents Claire's calculating nature and has long since strayed—finding solace in the arms of the female police officer who originally investigated Adam's case. Meanwhile, the other children—Danny and Willa—have gone in very different directions. Danny is a womanizing drunk, Willa a pious Catholic (and Claire's no-nonsense political advisor). What unifies them? Tremendous guilt over Adam's disappearance.

And what of Adam? A boy who gagged at the sight of eggs but can't get enough of them now. A boy who sneaks out of bed in the middle of the night to watch old home movies, as if trying to memorize them. A boy who might not be exactly who he claims to be.

The Family That Values Family Values

The Family is a mystery along the lines of Gracepoint or The Killing, revealing its secrets episode by convoluted episode. But while serialized television is nothing new in this era of TV binging, it is a bit unusual to see a series predicated not on an unexpected death, but an unexpected life.

Don't think, though, that that means The Family is family friendly. Sex and violence and lies are layered into it—from John's dalliances (which can feel raw and explicit) to Danny's similarly sleazy sexual relationships to, simply, the sexual and physical abuse that Adam says, in unblinking prose, he's experienced. And while Hank may or may not be guilty of Adam's kidnapping, the child pornography the police find on his computer tells us he's far from an innocent man.

This is a grim story with an uncertain trajectory, and its strong performances (led by three-time Oscar nominee Joan Allen as Claire) simply can't compensate.


Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

The Family: Mar. 3, 2015 "Pilot"



Readability Age Range



Joan Allen as Claire Warren; Rupert Graves as John Warren; Alison Pill as Willa Warren; Margot Bingham as Nina Meyer; Zach Gilford as Danny Warren; Liam James as Adam Warren; Floriana Lima as Bridey Cruz; Madeleine Arthur as Young Willa Warren; Rarmian Newton as Young Danny Warren; Andrew McCarthy as Hank Asher; Felix Solis as Gus Flores; Grant Show as Governor Charlie Lang; Maxwell James as Young Adam Warren






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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