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 this British paranormal suspense series is definitely not for young kids. The show deals with unsettled spirits who make contact with humans, and topics include murder, child molestation, and suicide. In one scene, a man falls over a banister to his death. The main character is a psychic who helps both the spirits who call on her and the families grieving after a loved one's death. Spooky scenes with spirits (who look fully human, if a bit pale) suddenly appearing or causing strange things to happen (doors slamming, papers flying, lights flickering) can be frightening. Views of realistic corpses and occasional violence top off the list of reasons to reserve this one for teens -- although, since the ever-changing storyline can be unpredictably frightening, parents may want to scan a few episodes before given even older kids the all-clear.
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What's the story?
In AFTERLIFE, Alison Mundy (Leslie Sharp) has always known that she could communicate with the dead, but since her own near-death experience, the spirits have completely consumed her life. They come to her at home, in the grocery store, even walking down the street, each communicating a need for some kind of resolution before they can move on to the afterlife. To help them -- as well as those suffering a loss of a loved one -- Alison mediates between the dead and their families, helping them work out their emotions; as a consequence, she often ends up piecing together the mystery surrounding the victims' deaths. Alison's work introduces her to a skeptical university lecturer named Robert Bridge (Andrew Lincoln) who specializes in the field of psychic mediums. Still blaming himself for the car accident that killed his son Josh (Joshua David-Kennedy), Robert finds himself suddenly uncertain what to believe when Alison reveals she's been in contact with Josh.
Is it any good?
Afterlife combines the eeriness expected of a paranormal thriller with dramatic, multi-dimensional characters whose pasts slowly take shape before viewers' eyes. Suspense fans will find a lot to like in this British import, which is bolstered by a great cast, excellent special effects, and intriguing uses of symbolic videography.
But parents will want to at least scan a few episodes before giving even older kids the all-clear, as the plot's ever-changing nature means that surprises are often lurking around each corner. Scenes of corpses (which sometimes bear injuries from the manner of their death) can be disturbing, and spooky happenings (lights flickering, objects flying around a room) can send chills down your spine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of life after death. Teens, do you believe in an afterlife? How plausible do psychics' claims of speaking with spirits seem? If your teens are skeptics, what would it take for them to change their minds? Families can also discuss the emotional journey that follows the death of a loved one. How do survivors cope with their loss? How is the process made more painful by the existence of unresolved issues with the person? If you could communicate with someone who has passed away, who would it be? What would you say?