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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stranger Things is a sci-fi/horror drama that centers on a group of tween/teen friends who find themselves fighting mysterious, dangerous forces in their small Indiana town. There are intense monster/slasher-type scares, with frequent death, peril, and gore. Children and teens are killed gruesomely, and people are attacked or taken by genuinely scary monsters, their bodies manipulated, possessed, and absorbed. Kids are kidnapped and traumatized, and there's frequent gun use; characters are killed by bullets as well as by supernatural means. In one scene, rats explode in a bloody, graphic manner; in another, a group of vulnerable kids is brutally murdered. Children take part in some type of experiment, and one main character spends much of her time processing the abuse she dealt with as a research guinea pig. Medical/military authorities have complicated motives. Teens date, flirt, and make out (and at least once a girl removes her shirt). Language includes "hell," "damn," "bitch," "s--t," "douche bag," "screwed," and "pissed off." Parents and teens will have fun watching this nail-biter of a mystery -- which has themes of curiosity, courage, and teamwork and emphasizes the importance of family and friendship -- but the later seasons in particular may be too intense for younger viewers.
Stranger Things Is My Favourite Show, It’s absolutely brilliant. My 12 year old is obsessed, and finished season 4 the day it came out. It’s a really great show, and, even though it’s seen as a horror show, it’s not very scary, I don’t think there are any jump scares, and even if there are, they aren’t going to make you jump around and scream as we know some movies can. This shows brilliant as it delivers scares in more of the sense of mystery and not knowing what’s really happening, and that can add to the chills of the show. It’s also set in the 80s, so any 80s kids will love the nostalgia. Now I’m moving into what might be scary or whatnot and there might be spoilers from here on, read with caution.
Ok, so, I’m going to now say what may be a bit chilling for your child. I’m basing this off mine, so, if your child can watch the hunger games without any problem, then this will probably be fine, it’s not much worse. Anyway, Season 1 isn’t too gory or anything, apart from the depiction of a dead deer with lots of blood and wounds and later on on the last episode, the people are killed by Eleven when she makes them bleed out their eyes and fall to the floor dead, later when they show there bodies, there is a lot, and i mean a LOT, of blood on the floor. But nothing too bad. They also show when she’s in the lab she smashes a guard against the wall and breaks all the bones in the others body, the crackling of all the bones completely shattering can be slightly disturbing, again, depends on the kid. Now, season 2, it’s definitely worse, but still not bad enough for a young teen to watch. There’s depictions of a child having a seizure, and screaming and going mad as he’s taken over by the mind flayer, but it’s not very disturbing. There’s also a monster that kills a cat, which might upset some sensitive children. The worst there really is is when in the end, Bob is mauled to death by Demodogs, which made me cry as he was such a good character, Joyce screaming really added to the effect. His bloody body can be disturbing as the camera pans away from his dead body with bite marks all over this neck and stomach. Now, Season 3, this is less scary but way more gory, there are people screaming as they are melted alive into a pile of flesh that the mind flayer uses to accumulate a physical form, and this could scare some sensitive children. There’s also a psychotic man chasing them around the hospital covered in blood. There’s a man who’s shot and killed, a hitman trying to kill Hopper, and Russians drugging and beating Steve up to give them answers. The end is relatively sad as Hopper is blown up and Billy is impaled and killed by the mind flayer. There are also some sexual jokes in this season, but they will fly over kids heads as they are relatively discrete unless you know what you’re looking for. Season 4, definitely the scariest, and maybe more of an older 12 year old to watch this, you need to be quite mature. There are people being snapped and distorted and getting there eyes pulled out by an evil force, which is chilling at first, but not too bad for older kids, there’s also very graphic violence towards small children as they are smashed against a wall or get there bones snapped and their eyes pulled out. There’s also a small rabbit that gets tortured and killed, a man who cut his eyes out with razor blades and his eye sockets filled with pus. Overall this season is very dark and gory but still so brilliant like the rest of the show. It really depends on your child’s maturity.
The first two seasons are phenomenal and could probably be handled by a 12-year-old, no problem. Some of these reviews seem to indicate even younger kids have no issues, and that's great for them. While the third season isn't as good in terms of overall quality, it's still solid and not too questionable in terms of content.
HOWEVER...the fourth season goes full-on demonic/horror, and I am sad that I let myself watch as much of it as I have, let alone my 14-year-old. So much so, I signed up just so I could make this review because I do not feel like other reviews make it sufficiently clear how much they deal with demonic activity. A friend told us it got better after two episodes, but I wish I had listened to the reviews that said they quit after two. Frankly, I wish I had quit after one. If you (or especially your children) are sensitive to this sort of material at all, I do not recommend season 4.
STRANGER THINGS kicks off with the mysterious disappearance of young Will (Noah Schnapp), who vanishes in the woods while biking home from a Dungeons & Dragons session with his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). The first season centers on getting him back from the terrifying, eerie Upside Down: a supernatural, monster-filled realm below the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. The characters include Will's terrified mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and his brother, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), as well as bold Sheriff Hopper (David Harbour). There's also a mysterious girl known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) who's escaped from a shadowy experimental facility that seems somehow connected to the Upside Down. As the show progresses, the friends learn more about the Upside Down and the threats it holds and must work with each other -- as well as with allies like fellow teens Max (Sadie Sink), Steve (Joe Keery), Nancy (Natalia Dyer), and Robin (Maya Hawke) -- to triumph over the darkness.
Is It Any Good?
Dark, creepy, and sublimely intriguing, this 1980s throwback will remind you of many a vintage-era sci-fi/horror movie, in the most pleasant way imaginable. The cast is clad in dated '80s wear, walls are (fake) wood-paneled, phones are firmly attached to cords, and kids are free to race around on their bicycles, looking for clues. And there are lots of clues to look for, as it quickly becomes clear that all is not as it seems in the small-town setting.
In the first season, violence and gore are relatively low, while atmosphere and spookiness are high -- that changes as the series progresses, with some pretty gruesome deaths in the spotlight. But with characters of both kid- and parent-age to relate to, fear fans of all ages will have someone to root for. Tweens and teens will be interested in the mystery and compelled by the finely drawn characters, while adults can also enjoy the vintage clothing, technology, and prices. It's likely that everyone will be charmed by the spunkiness of the young heroes, who are ready, willing, and able to save the day when the adults in their lives are stymied.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what genre Stranger Things is. Sci-fi? Horror? Drama? All of the above? What elements of each does it have?
What era is this drama set in? How can you tell? Consider costuming, dialogue, props, and settings in your answer.
Many reviews of Stranger Things refer to 1980s dramas like E.T.,It, andPoltergeist. How is Stranger Things like or unlike these movies? Why are these comparisons being made?