Fool Me Once parents guide: Harlan Coben's latest Netflix series could work for older teens

The mystery series deals with PTSD and grief, but does it earn its TV-MA rating?

Fool Me Once. Cr: Netflix.
Fool Me Once. Cr: Netflix. /
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Fool Me Once is the latest of the Harlan Coben adaptations on Netflix. But if you've already watched previous Coben adaptations, you might know they're very adult in language, violence, and theme. And you probably know that because you accidentally watched with your kids. Oops! So is Fool Me Once something that will work for the children in your house? Or will Netflix fool you twice?

The series, like the novel, follows a woman who is grieving the loss of her husband. He was killed in a robbery right in front of her. However, she sees him on her daughter’s nanny cam, and now she has to figure out how her husband is still alive. What is his family hiding? Or is she going crazy?

The series itself is rated TV-MA. That means it’s not rated for those under 18. However, after watching the series a couple of times, I'm going to disagree: Fool Me Once is a series that could work for older teenagers who like crime dramas and gritty stories. Let's discuss why.

Why Fool Me Once could work well for teens:

First of all, let's talk negatives... There is a bit too much foul language to rate it TV-14. There are a lot of curse words, including multiple F-bombs, and I know many parents still aren’t comfortable with their children hearing them. That’s fair!

There is also some violence. It’s nothing on the level of The Boys where it’s just pure gore, but there is some blood and there are some fight scenes. The lead character has PTSD from her time in the military, where she had to make a sudden call -- and it was a bad one. We see glimpses of bodies and hear a lot of shouting from that bad call she made.

However, older teens can definitely work their way through the trickier subjects dealt with, like PTSD. If the violence doesn't worry you -- and this really isn't much more violent than your run-of-the-mill superhero movie -- this is certainly something to watch with them if they want to check it out, so you are there for any questions about those deeper subjects.

On the positive side, Fool Me Once has some great lessons in doing the right thing and getting help for mental issues when needed. That’s not just for Maya, either. We see a focus on the need for proper drug testing and getting help for medical issues as soon as they arise. There’s a focus on the grief of losing a loved one, not jumping to conclusions, and the differences between the rich and the everyday people.

Still not sure if you should watch with your kids? You’ll get a sense of everything to expect after watching just the first episode. So, if you watch that and you’re comfortable with your teens watching as well, I’d recommend this series for those in love with gritty crime dramas. You can trust us: you won't get fooled again.

Next. Shogun earns its TV-MA rating. Shogun earns its TV-MA rating. dark

Fool Me Once is available to stream on Netflix.