Stranger Things: A TV Show Review For Parents
Updated November 9, 2023
Stranger Things is a sci-fi thriller TV show that takes place in a suburban 80’s America. The first season was released on Netflix in 2016 and it was immediately a cultural phenomenon. Fans fell in love with the complex characters, thrilling plot twists, and of course the nostalgic retro aesthetic of the set.
Some elements of the show are very intense and include mature themes, making it more suitable for an older audience. We’ve laid out all the details parents need to know about this popular Netflix series, but first, a quick overview of the plot!
Stranger Things has lots of characters and plotlines to keep up with, but all of them center around Eleven. Eleven (or “El”) has been raised in a laboratory as a test subject for having powerful telekinesis abilities. In the first episode of season one, she escapes the lab and ends up in the hands of a group of kids who live in the nearby suburbs of Indiana.
At the same time, other strange things begin to happen in the sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana. People are going missing, lights are mysteriously flickering. It turns out the lab that El escaped from had opened a supernatural doorway to what they call the “Upside Down” — an alternate dimension where Hawkins exists as a dark, sinister world. This alternate universe is complete with menacing creatures who are trying to take over the real, normal Hawkins.
El’s new friends begin to piece together all these strange happenings and realize that El is the only one who can save them from the Upside Down.
Harmful Content ❗️
As mentioned, Stranger Things hits on some mature themes that parents should know. For one, the violence and gore are a huge part of the show, and we’ll delve into more details about that further down.
The show mostly revolves around the lives of a group of high schoolers in the 80s. This means you can expect things like teen romance, high school parties (including scenes of drinking and characters being clearly drunk), and old-fashioned schoolyard bullying. And as most teenagers do, there is a fair amount of sneaking around and fibbing to parents. Although most teenagers aren’t fighting supernatural forces and secret government agents.
Additionally, many of the characters in the show have difficult family dynamics, including some allusions to abuse from parents in later seasons.
Lastly, as the show takes place in the 80’s, adults are frequently seen smoking cigarettes.
Almost all Stranger Things episodes include the use of adult language. Swear words are often used in playful, humorous ways, or exchanged between friends. However, there are still many instances where it’s used in harsh, directed ways, such as in the bullying scenes. Also important to note, some of these words include dated, derogatory words like “f**got”.
While the show taking place in the 80s is fun for kids to watch, it’s also important they understand why certain norms like this are no longer tolerated.
Many of the teens in the show are involved in some sort of romantic relationship. There are frequent scenes of characters making out. Some scenes throughout the series allude to characters having sex, though there are no actual sex scenes. There is one scene where a female character is briefly seen in her bra.
Parents should know that the essence of Stranger Things is its intense and scary scenes. Much of the show is very suspenseful and has its fair share of jump scares throughout the seasons. In particular, the Upside Down creatures are otherworldly and frightening. Parents can expect many scenes to be gory, even possibly disturbing for some viewers.
Some episodes include characters getting severely injured and beaten up, including a fair amount of blood. The show also includes a handful of tragic deaths, many of whom most of the audience grows to love before their death in the show.
Positive Value 💫
Along with the gore and thrilling sci-fi effects, the backbone of Stranger Things is the heart of the characters and their friendships. The core crew of the show form strong bonds and quickly learn that each of them is needed in some way for the mission. Though El is the one with the power to close the door to the Upside Down, she relies heavily on the help and faith of her friends. Viewers will also feel an emotional tug for the characters as they make huge sacrifices for each other. El makes many of these and continuously puts others’ needs before her own safety.
Many of the kids are quintessential “misfit” characters who all find their place with friends who accept them anyway. One of the characters, Dustin, has a genetic disorder that makes him the target of some school bullies. But his friends are quick to defend him, and he does the same for them when they’re teased. Kids watching this show can feel a sense of empowerment for whatever may make them different from the crowd.