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 Black Summer is a horror series about zombies. It's been touted as an unofficial prequel of sorts to Syfy's cult fave zombie show Z Nation, though there's no overlap with the characters featured, so viewers can safely watch without having viewed the prior series. While Z Nation was a zombie series with a touch of humor to it, Black Summer is much darker in tone, full of fast-paced, bloody action. Zombies and humans alike are maimed, killed, and obliterated by a variety of weapons (knives, baseball bats, guns of various sizes and types). Blood and guts are par for the course in this world, and the zombies are not the slow-moving variety -- they're the super-speedy, rage-filled running type of undead, which can be even creepier. Zombies are not the only threat here, as human survivors battle and exploit one another for resources.
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What's the story?
BLACK SUMMER follows a handful of men and women (including Sin City's Jaime King as "Rose") in the early days of a terrifying zombie outbreak as they attempt to evacuate the suburbs -- a move that has been ordered by the military, who also fly by periodically to dive-bomb the area, trying to contain the spread of the mysterious virus. The survivors hope to make it to the designated safe zone at a nearby football stadium, where they will presumably be airlifted to safety. It won't be easy, and they'll face obstacles not only from the bloodthirsty undead, but from fellow humans as well.
Is it any good?
With at least three zombie-centered TV series currently airing, viewers could be forgiven for feeling a bit fatigued at the idea of adding a fourth. Unlike previous offerings, however, Black Summer eschews drawn-out character development and long stretches of weepy dialogue and goes directly for the jugular with a show focused more on nonstop survival and action scenes than pseudo-deep fireside chats (The Walking Dead, we're looking at you!). And whatever the show's weaknesses might be -- the special effects are decent, if a little underwhelming -- it's kind of refreshing to see a show that's just out to scare its audience. They do a good job of maintaining an anxious vibe in each episode, where you truly don't know when one of these ghouls might pop out at you.
Part of that is down to the style of zombie they're highlighting here: These are not the shuffling, slow-as-molasses zombies of old-school horror movies. They're lightning-fast and filled with rage; victims who are bitten start to turn within minutes. It won't be to everyone's taste, but for horror fans who crave more action and excitement than emotional depth, Black Summer may be just the ticket.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of zombies in pop culture. Why is this myth so enduring? Beyond the fact that some audiences just love to be scared, how are zombies used as a metaphor to represent deeper themes and ideas? (Example: Zombies being used to satirize consumerism in the classic 1978 horror movie Dawn of the Dead.)
Survivors in films and TV shows like Black Summer take many different approaches to endure in an impossible, post-apocalyptic world. Many are faced with horrible choices they wouldn't normally make if the circumstances were not life-or-death. Talk about the sacrifices characters make that might be at odds with their moral beliefs.
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For kids who love scary stuff
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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