A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are few and far between. The overall vibe is downbeat, teens are reduced to stereotypes, Hawaii is reduced to a colorful backdrop, and the intent seems to be to startle and shock.
Positive Role Models
It's far too easy to reduce each character into a few words, e.g., Margot is rich, insecure, and a social media influencer, Lennon is a party girl whose antics hide her inner emptiness, and so forth. Characters consistently make mistakes and often pay for them with physical violence and/or death.
Many characters are people of color, but their race is not referred to and the central group of friends all seem like similarly privileged and empty-headed teens, while the action is centered on a young, thin, White woman. This show is set in Hawaii, a state with a large population of indigenous people, but the culture of Hawaii is reduced to images of tiki torches and references to Hawaiian food. At least one character is pansexual, and his sexual identity is considered no big deal by his family and friends.
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Violence & Scariness
An accidental death plays a central role in this drama; expect to see a dead body shown at length (it looks like the person is sleeping) as well as blood, a decapitated animal head dripping blood, and other gruesome sights. Characters are suddenly dispatched by a shadowy murderer in the style of a 1980s-era slasher movie.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man's penis is visible in a non-sexual scene in which we see him peeing into a pool at a party. In another scene, a man's bare buttocks bang rhythmically against a window, presumably during sex. A young woman is told she "f--ks" to get privileges and we learn that she had sex with a high school teacher in order to get a grade, which the drama seems to blame on her solely. Expect kissing and dating as well as makeout sessions that wind up with a couple tumbling into bed before the camera cuts away. A character gives another graphic instruction on how to perform oral sex on a man. Sexual betrayal is an element of the plot.
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Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," as well as vulgar words for female genitals that are used to imply characters being rude, or cowardly: "c--t," "p---y."
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Products & Purchases
Many shots show huge houses, expensive cars, enormous parties, and other trappings of luxury. One character's wealth is mentioned frequently.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A main character smokes cigarettes and offers one to another character, who takes it, saying "as long as they’ll kill me." Teens at a party drink something from plastic cups, and in one scene partygoers chant at a main character to make him drink. A main character sells drugs, which this show seems to regard as sensible given her status as a lower-middle-class teen in an upper-middle-class milieu; we see her delivering drugs to other teens at a party, including ketamine in a nasal spray, which the client then uses before dancing wildly and having sex with another partygoer. We see teens smoking from pipes, snorting lines of white powder, and gleefully drinking and using drugs in a car in which the driver says she's "very f--ked up" (they wind up in a terrible car crash).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Know What You Did Last Summer is a downbeat mystery/suspense drama -- based on a 1973 YA adult novel that was also adapted into a hit movie of the same name in 1997 -- with lots of iffy content. The drama is built around an accidental death that turns into a coverup, with a victim and perpetrator who are different than in the book and movie. Expect to see a dead body at length (with some blood on the head but basically looking asleep), somewhat bloody slasher-style murders that are heavy on the stalking, and gruesome sights like a (not very realistic looking) decapitated animal's head. Drugs play a major part in the narrative; one character sells drugs, and viewers see her delivering drugs like ketamine in a nasal spray that another character sniffs and urges a friend to try. Teens drink, smoke from pipes, smoke cigarettes, and snort white powder; some get into a car while "very f--ked up" (this is followed by a car crash). Nudity is both sexual (a man's bare buttocks rhythmically pressing against a window) and non-sexual (a man's penis is visible as he urinates into a pool); there's also flirting, dating, passionate kissing, and references to off-screen sex. One teen accuses another of having sex with a teacher for a better grade. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," "p---y." The cast is diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, but the action centers on a White teen, and characters are largely stereotypes who seem like props in a drama in which the really important thing is the old stalk-and-slash.
Is It Any Good?
The old-school YA novel it's based on was pretty great, but this adaptation fails to stick the landing thanks to narration-heavy dialogue, shoehorned-in seaminess, and a bewildering twist. First, the source material: Lois Duncan's 1973 book I Know What You Did Last Summer was YA suspense before there was even a category for books like these. In it a group of average kids make a terrible, morally indefensible yet understandable choice that haunts them in the form of a murderous stalker. Like the 1997 movie of the same name, this adaptation changes the victim of that morally indefensible choice, and adds in a measure of soap-opera-ish plot complication connected with hidden identities and long-held secrets.
It all comes across as a fairly standard would-be ripoff of the dark teen dramas that have caught and held the zeitgeist in recent years -- Riverdale, Euphoria, Pretty Little Liars. The creators of this series seem determined to shove in as much R-rated content as possible, as is encapsulated by one scene in the show's pilot containing this couplet of dialogue between two teens sharing liquor and drugs in the backseat of a car: "Who wants shots?" "I'll take an eight-ball!" By the time we get to the first big twist, many viewers will already be tuning out this seen-it-but-done-better confusing mess of a show.
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.