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 the violence depicted in this late-night cartoon (it's part of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line-up) is explicit. Characters are shown bleeding from their eyes, having their skin burned off by scalding-hot coffee, and getting mangled in the blades of a helicopter, among other catastrophes. The show also manages to reinforce just about every negative stereotype imaginable about long-haired, leather-clad heavy metal bands. These guys play and party hard, spend their spare time with busty women, and drink alcohol like it's water, prompting one of them to declare, "I'd rather chop off my ding-dong than not drink." Indeed.
What's the story?
As the world's most popular (fictional) heavy metal band, Dethklok has cornered the market on the hard-living, hardcore lifestyle and has cultivated a powerful worldwide influence from their perch in Scandinavia. So much so that they've unknowingly attracted the attention of a subversive group of world leaders, who have plans to use the band's clout to their advantage. Throughout most of METALOCALYPSE, the guys of Dethklok have no idea that this deadly subtext is brewing. They're just focused on playing rock music and avoiding the long arm of the law every time one of their publicity stunts goes awry. The guys in the group are lead singer Nathan Explosion (a \"lyrical visionary\"), lead guitarist Skwisgaar Skwigelf (the \"fastest guitar player alive\"), guitarist Toki Wartooth (the \"second-fastest guitar player alive\"), bassist William Murderface (a hate-filled time bomb), and drummer Pickles (a corn-fed Midwesterner and former front man of his own band).
Is it any good?
These guys make Metallica look like Sesame Street. In short, they're kind of scary. Despite the promising kitsch of '80s hair band nostalgia and the hilarity of Murderface's squared-off afro, Metalocalypse suffers from a lack of smart humor and a plot that never really takes off. The show tries to make up for it by trucking in excess blood and guts, but that only makes things worse. Even adults who grew up on death metal -- and therefore might get more of the "jokes" -- probably won't find it especially funny. And kids? They shouldn't be watching in the first place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that heavy metal music isn't always this X-rated. After all, plenty of bands rock hard without resorting to gory shock-tactics and blood worship. That said, the show does offer a way for parents to talk to their kids about the grim realities of alcohol and drug abuse -- and the objectification of women -- that runs rampant in the music industry. Why does having an outrageous lifestyle usually make bands seem cooler to their fans? And can heavy metal still be "heavy" without all the vices?