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 Legion is a gripping sci-fi series about a young man who believes he's mentally ill but actually has super powers. Much of the series takes place in a mental hospital, which has creepy medical professionals and drooling patients. Doctors and nurses loom, push pills, hold patients down and deliver shots, all of which could scare young kids. Shadowy agents talk casually about killing the show's main character, David, and at one point he attempts suicide himself, hanging himself from an appliance cord. Soldiers with machine guns hunt down mutants; objects fly around when a character with telekinesis gets angry, and injure people (one bad guy gets an ink pen stuck through his cheek). Dead bodies are shown onscreen. Characters kiss, and there are vulgar words for body parts and bodily functions, as well as occasional cursing: "Holy s--t!" A teen drinks beer to deal with his stress; many patients talk about and take psychiatric medications.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the sci-fi drama LEGION, David Haller (Dan Stevens) is a young man who's spent most of his life in a mental institution, told that the voices he hears in his head are schizophrenia. But no matter what the doctors say, Haller can't shake the feeling there's more going on than just hallucinations. When he gets angry, objects fly through the air and people get hurt. What's more, he suspects he's not the only one with a little more than normal human abilities -- fellow patient Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller) also has a special talent, one that has to do with her hatred of being touched. When the two pair up and begin to realize just what they are -- and that there are people out there that mean to do them harm -- they're launched into a terrifying new reality.
Is it any good?
Cinematic, creepy, beautiful, and bizarre, this hallucinatory series may be both the best superhero show on the air and the best X-Men iteration yet. Beset by visions and (true?) delusions, Stevens is a bewildering, yet sympathetic character who makes it easy to imagine: What if it were me caught in an elaborate plot designed to rout out those who are different? As he attempts to ferret out the truth through dreams, confused memories, and communiques from ghosts and fellow mutants, we're just happy to be along for the ride.
Trippy visuals are just part of the pleasure here -- the costume designer is clearly having a wonderful time coming up with off-kilter 1960s outfits, and everything's lit in bloody red or eerie yellow. When David has a telekinetic fit, every tool in an office flies through the air to the dreamy strains of Jane's Addiction. Of course, if you've ever watched an X-Men movie you're one up on David, and know why he's being persecuted and just what he's up against -- but mesmerized viewers won't be able to stop themselves from binging on one more episode of Legion to find out what happens next.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how often fantasy and science fiction are ways to talk about tough real-world issues. Does the acceptance of the unreal make it easier to discuss the real? What real-world evils are represented by the agents who are hunting David and his fellow mutants in Legion?
What time period is the show set in? How can you tell? How does a show communicate its setting in costumes, styling, stage dressing?
What's the difference between science-fiction series and movies? What types of stories can be told in a movie vs. episodically on television? Which do you prefer?