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 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."
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?
For kids who love teen drama
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