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Deadly Class

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Deadly Class TV Poster Image
Young-psychos-in-training series has violence, language.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

This show's heart is with the downtrodden and the misfits, but these rebels' ultimate aim is to fight abuse with brutal violence -- hardly a positive message. "The world respects those who can protect themselves," as an authority figure, a good shorthand for this show's violent viewpoint. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even the "heroes" are violent psychopaths, though show seems to believe that there's some kind of honor amongst thieves, portraying some characters as more sympathetic -- e.g., Marcus is protective of female characters, Petra can be empathetic toward her fellow misfits. However, both use violence to gain their ends. Note: Giving characters abusive backstories does not justify them turning into dangerous criminals. Characters are diverse in racial and ethnic identity, even some diversity in body type -- rare on TV. 

Violence

Violence is intense, boundary-pushing. Show setting is a school that teaches teens to be murderers. Characters are in constant mortal danger. Even "good" characters kill, in deaths that are shown on-screen. We see blood but no gore, and deaths are frequently presented as "just" -- i.e., the character who dies is shown as irretrievably evil. Many characters have violent backstories, like Marcus, whose parents were killed by a mentally ill woman who leapt from a tower. Police officers are shown as ineffectual and/or corrupt.

Sex

"No sex" is one of the rules of this school, but as one student says, they "find their way around" that rule. A boy tells another about a very frank and violent sexual fantasy that he masturbated to. Teens kiss and have sex with their private parts obscured, but seemingly nude from the side. There are references to pedophilia and molestation, like when a boy says a teacher will want to "dress him up like a Viking and take tasteful pictures" as payback for his education. 

Language

Language includes "f---ing," "s--t," "goddamn," "ass," "bitch," "piss," "bulls--t," "damn." Characters frequently insult each other with language and emphasize social status ("loser," "poseur"), sexual or gender identity ("queer-bait"), or racial/ethnic identity ("wetback"). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens routinely smoke cigarettes and pot, and drink (presumably alcohol) from red Solo cups at parties. One character smokes the end of a joint laced with angel dust and hallucinates. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deadly Class is about a school that trains teens to be murderers, super-villain style. The levels of violence, language, drug use, and sex are mature, particularly the violence. Characters, even "good" ones, commit murders that are painted as justice -- i.e., they're killing "bad" people. We see on-screen hand-to-hand combat, stabbings, martial arts, and shootings, with blood but no gore. Some violence has a gendered and/or sexual edge: A female character is abused by a male one, a boy tells another about a violent sexual fantasy he masturbated to. There are also references to pedophilia and molestation, like when a boy implies a teacher will want sexual payback for a favor. Students are forbidden to have sex at their school, but they do anyway, and we see characters having sex nude from the side, with private parts obscured, as well as teens kissing and flirting. Teens also routinely smoke pot and drink, and smoke cigarettes. The show's whole viewpoint is dark: "The world respects those who can protect themselves," says an authority figure. Language includes all the four-letter words ("f--k," "s--t," etc.) as well as "bitch," "bulls--t," "a--hole," and the like. Language can also be insulting and racist: "loser," "wetback." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 15 and 17 year old Written bybigboy19 January 18, 2019

cms got it all wrong

okay i got a free screening of this show and while cms is right about content this is insane 2 stars really show wise this is fantastic so much fun really enjoy... Continue reading
Parent of a 13, 13, 14, and 15 year old Written byDio fry January 31, 2019

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

At the mysterious Kings Dominion school for teens, murder and mayhem are the only syllabus for each DEADLY CLASS. Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) is your typical average just-set-fire-to-an-orphanage-and-killed-12-people teen living on the streets in 1987 San Francisco when he gets a strange visitor: "You don't have to be alone," says Saya (Lana Condor), as she takes him to his new school/home/family, under the direction of brutal Master Lin (Benedict Wong). The kids there study dark arts, hand-to-hand combat, and poison, not English and physics. And with life's deck stacked against him, Marcus feels like this is where he belongs, this is where he can make his greatest dream come true: to assassinate Ronald Reagan. 

Is it any good?

Violent and visually beautiful, this melding of Harry Potter, Suicide Squad, and X-Men comes off as less than a sum of its parts because its dramatic beats are too familiar, its point of view too basic. At this point, the idea of a school for super-powered misfits, even violent killers from criminal families, is a narrative cliché; only truly creative writing could lift it out of its been-there-done-that status. But unfortunately, that's not on offer here. The problems are crystallized in the first episode of Deadly Class, with Marcus landing himself in hot water with one of the school's violent gangs when he tries to protect a female classmate he believes to be abused by her violent boyfriend. 

There's a concept in comic book fandom known as "fridging," in which female characters are abused, raped, and/or killed merely as a convenient reason for their male love interests to fight villains. Fridging turns female characters into objects, and male ones into verbs; neither are given humanity. So why start what's advertised as something cool and new with something old and tired? Surely in a school for murderers, a deadly female character could protect herself. And male characters shouldn't need a trumped-up reason to look or act heroic. With these kinds of tiresome and regressive ideas anchoring the action, no amount of thick black eyeliner, teens ultra-violencing each other, or alterna-'80s songs on the soundtrack can make this show look fresh and cool. Instead it mainly feels like a waste of good actors and art direction. P.S.: You really had to call one class the "Dark Arts"? Really? You didn't think about maybe picking another name? No one in the writers' room said, "Hey, wasn't that what Snape wanted to teach?" Shrug. Well, OK. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Deadly Class. How does the violence compare to that of other superhero movies or shows? What impact does media violence have on kids?

  • What does the word "antihero" mean? Why are antiheroes appealing? What sets them apart from "regular" heroes?

  • Are any of the Deadly Class students role models? Why or why not?

TV details

For kids who love comic-based TV

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