Netflix’s flagship series “Stranger Things” enjoys a huge audience and has been praised by critics for its writing, directing, acting, and more.
If you aren’t familiar with the streaming series, the story is set in the 1980s and features a group of parents, teens, and kids who are trying to figure out why supernatural events are plaguing a small mid-western town.
Despite the fact that “Stranger Things” is a show about children and is highly attractive to children, it has a rating of TV-14, which indicates that some of its content may not be suitable for kids under the age of fourteen.
In each successive season since its initial debut, the media phenom appears to have amplified the violence contained within.
Seasons 2 and 3 are decidedly more brutal and graphic than Season 1 of the series.
Unfortunately, Season 4 of “Stranger Things” has descended to a base level of darkness that has parents, grandparents, and guardians of the innocent casting the program out of homes, schools, etc., and questioning whether the show has the proper rating attached to it.
In addition to gruesome imagery and intensely aggressive behavior, Season 4 of the streaming series contains inappropriate sexual scenes and unnecessary profanity.
A reasonable explanation for the increasing coarseness of programming content is hard to come by.
Writers could have maintained the Steven Spielberg-influenced style and technique of the early episodes, which made Season 1 so appealing to viewers.
Instead the show altered its approach and is using enhanced computer graphics to peddle emotionally-laden themes, which feature graphic torture scenes, some involving child victims.
A number of Season 4’s scenes are so extreme that Netflix has had to include a disclaimer, which appears at the beginning of the first episode of the season.
The Parent Television and Media Council (PTC), a nonprofit advocate of responsible entertainment, used technology to quantify the increase in violence and profanity in the fourth season of the series, relative to prior seasons.
By using the content-filtering capabilities of VidAngel, which is a video streaming service that removes anti-family content in shows and movies, PTC found that Season 4 had a significant spike in material that was objectionable to parents.
The group’s study indicated that the frequency of violence in “Stranger Things” had increased threefold, when compared to previous seasons. The study also indicated that graphic violence in the show had increased seven times, when compared to prior seasons.
Additionally, the use of crass language had increased markedly. According to the PTC’s study, the frequency of profanity in the series had doubled since Season 1.
As an example of profanity creep, the series contained zero instances of the f-word, until, that is, its second season, when the word was used six times.
During Season 3, use of the word increased to five times. And in Season 4, it jumped to nine times.
Under the guidelines system used by Netflix, a single use of the word would normally trigger a TV-MA content rating.
A statement issued by the PTC indicated that the profane words in “Stranger Things” were “once unthinkable for dialogue on programs rated as appropriate for 13- and 14-year-old children; but on Netflix they have become ubiquitous.”
The group came to the conclusion that the rating for the program needs to be changed, stating, “For a program with such multi-generational appeal, we were shocked to see the rapid rise of explicit adult content that includes profanity and graphic violence without Netflix increasing the TV-14 age rating to TV-MA.”
The sheer amount of unsuitable material in forms of violence, profanity, and sexual imagery prompted PTC President Tim Winter to send a letter to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, requesting the aforementioned change in the rating.
“While Netflix has never been afraid to use a TV-MA rating, we suspect it wants to attract a broad audience for ‘Stranger Things’ and has rated it TV-14 for that reason,” Winter said. “However, ‘Stranger Things’ later seasons are clearly being rated inappropriately considering the amount of explicit content.”
The PTA indicates in its letter that the mislabeling makes it hard for parents to do their jobs.
“It is imperative that the TV rating system is accurate in order to be useful to parents,” Winter said.
In addition to the previously stated objectionable material, Season 4 of the series ridicules religion and denigrates adult authority.
Unfortunately, the series has continued the idea that adult authority is dispensable and that children have greater wisdom than adults. Young characters in the series routinely deceive, falsify, undermine, and/or steal from adult characters in order to achieve their goals.
Where there’s awareness there’s hope. So as word about this issue gets out, the public just may get a ratings system that is once again accurate and reliable.
After all, stranger things have happened.