Kiss Me First

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Kiss Me First TV Poster Image
Dark, intriguing VR sci-fi drama can be mature.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Messages range toward the aspirational -- live your truth, follow your dreams. On the flip side, this drama demonstrates that having dreams can make people vulnerable to those with bad intentions. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Leila is an unusual character: a socially isolated, solitary woman with a rich inner life, nerve, and grit. Expect some stereotyping: A man refers to an African American woman as "a lovely bit of rhythm and blues," other characters refer to themselves as "losers" or "a bit of a mess." 

Violence

Most violence is virtual: Computer game characters kick, shoot, punch each other. Parents of a young adult character fight viciously offscreen; we hear thuds and screams indicating domestic violence.

Sex

Expect nudity (like when a character goes to bed in only underwear with her bare breasts visible at length) and references to sex, like when a woman says she broke up with her ex-boyfriend because there was "too much anal sex." 

Language

Cursing and language includes "s--t," "f--k," "f---ing," "t-ts," "hell," "d--k," "crap."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink cocktails at a club; a woman takes an unnamed blue pill at a club and is seen dancing all night ecstatically. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kiss Me First is a drama about a virtual world and its effects on a set of lonely characters. Themes are mature, and content is occasionally mature too: A woman takes an unnamed blue pill in a club and dances all night; another undresses for bed and lounges about in underwear with her breasts visible, discussing why she broke up with an ex-boyfriend ("too much anal sex"). Computer game violence -- punching, kicking, shooting -- is frequent, and in real life, an adult character's parents fight offscreen, with thuds and screams indicating domestic violence. Language is frequent, but not used to demean or insult other characters: "s--t," "f--k," "f---ing," "hell," "crap," "d--k," "t-ts." 

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What's the story?

KISS ME FIRST centers on Leila (Tallulah Haddon), a friendless gamer whose happiest moments are spent in the digital world Azana. But when she accidentally stumbles into a new and threatening pocket of Azana, the game starts invading her real life. Particularly when the alluring and mercurial Tess (Simona Brown) appears at Leila's job, intent on being -- a friend? Rival? Siren? When Tess mysteriously disappears, Leila will have to dive deeper into this creepy new world to find out. 

Is it any good?

Trippy and mysterious in a way that recalls shows like Orphan Black and Black Mirror, this intriguing series maroons viewers in a virtual world that bleeds into the real one. Leila's life is miserable in Kiss Me First: She's alone in the world after her beloved mom dies, and subsists by busing tables three lunchtimes a week at a greasy spoon. Friends? None. Skills? Not many, unless you count a whole lot of experience living a virtual life in Azana, the VR game where Leila can fly, or fight, or talk to people in a way she can't in the real world. 

Azana is also the place that Leila accidentally steps into a new realm, one where the players wear illegal sense bands that transmit "pleasure or pain," says Tess teasingly when she seeks out Leila in real life and spirits her away to a London club. "Here what's inside you, what you're hiding, it will come out," warns a fellow player, while the leader of the "red pill" realm, Adrian, speculates about Leila: "I think she did something. Maybe she'll tell us what it was." Our bet is that she will. But also that this clever, spellbinding show will spin out its revelations deliberately and tantalizingly, all the better to ensnare those who appreciate a slow burn. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Kiss Me First's characters are so compelled by Azana. What do they have in this virtual realm that they lack in real life? Why would a person be interested in interacting with avatars of real people in an imaginary world? 

  • What do you think Kiss Me First is saying about the way our society uses technology like cell phones, and people's fascination with social media and virtual worlds? Do you think the show's dark, unusual style helps make these points? Or does it detract from them? 

  • Do you think technology enhances people's lives? Can you think of examples where it seems to have gone too far in real life? 

TV details

For kids who love teen drama

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