A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
It's thought provoking but also disturbing.
Positive Role Models
In the last two episodes, Aubrey Plaza plays a woman who tries valiantly to figure out why the world is falling apart, and the answer is personal. In an episode involving a plane crash, the pilot makes a point of connecting with his young daughter and talks to many people about her importance.
Violence & Scariness
In the first episode, Tim in L.A. describes to 911 a woman in his home who "looks pretty mangled... it looks like she got attacked by a wild animal." Meanwhile, in New York we hear the streets are in chaos and his girlfriend Sara has been attacked. A police officer says Sara's "lost too much blood" and won't survive. In another episode, a man calls 911 to report he's shot and killed his fiancee. A plane crash is described and the panic is palpable in another episode. In the episode starring Nick Jonas, he plays a character who may have killed his girlfriend.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex is mentioned -- there are infidelities in a couple episodes, and in one episode a woman discovers she's pregnant.
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Amidst the confusion or horror in each episode, "f--k" and "s--t" are uttered frequently.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nick Jonas plays a character who drinks and takes drugs at a music festival, then may have killed his girlfriend.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Calls is a disturbing, mysterious limited series in which all the plot and character development are conveyed through phone calls. Think of it as a radio or podcast drama that has laser show-style graphics meant to enhance the mood and outline the relationship between the callers. There's some foul language (mostly "f--k" and "s--t") in reaction to situations that are scary and bizarre (time travel, people seeming to appear in multiple places simultaneously, a neighbor who wants a character to tend to millions of dollars in cash). Many of the stories are violent -- we hear about a bloody, mangled body in one episode and the aftermath of a jet plane crash in another.
Is It Any Good?
A TV show that doesn't show you what's happening turns out to be surprisingly effective for horrific stories because your imagination fills in the visual blanks in this tautly written limited series. Based on the French series of the same name, Calls, from Fede Álvarez (Don't Breathe), connects you to each story quickly using text to disclose the location and who's on the call. Each call is a gripping 15- to 20-minute standalone story, but if you make it to the end of the nine episodes that are thematically similar, a mystery is solved.
Though you could just listen to episodes as you would a radio or podcast series, the abstract, colorful, dynamic visuals complement the dialogue as music might. As Calls was released a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be easy to assume the production was a coronavirus compromise. Apparently, though, it was always intended to be a picture-free show, a uniquely unsettling premise that happened to coincide with a uniquely unsettling time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.