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 NOS4A2 is a horror-drama that takes a unique approach to the vampire story. Instead of sucking blood, main villain Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) telepathically feeds on children's souls and sends henchmen to do his dirty work for him. Though there's surprisingly little blood involved, given the subject, NOS4A2 does have outbursts of violence where, for example, one victim has her neck broken. Outside of Manx, the show functions mostly as a teen drama, focusing on its protagonist, Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), and her family and social circle. There's a lot of alcohol involved, and McQueen's mother and father both appear to be alcoholics. There's also the potential for sexual situations, a vampire story staple, though the show seems to want to walk the fine line of being appropriate for teens while still seeming edgy.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In NOS4A2, a young boy is lured into the back of an old-fashioned limousine, driven by a ghoul named Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto). One of Manx's henchmen is dispatched to kill the boy's parents while Manx drives him away to Christmasland, "where every day is Christmas Day and unhappiness is against the law." Shortly thereafter, Vic McQueen (Ashleigh Cummings), a high school student who cleans houses part time for her mother, discovers that she has a strange psychic rapport with Manx. When McQueen discovers that Manx is an immortal who feeds on children's souls, she realizes that it's up to her to stop him.
Is it any good?
The title is a play on F.W. Murnau's 1922 silent film Nosferatu, which lifted its story from Bram Stoker's Dracula, but this series doesn't bear much resemblance to either. Instead, its vampire supervillain feels more like a vague amalgamation of monsters: a ghoul who lures children into his car with Christmas presents, has henchmen murder their parents, and feeds on their souls to remain eternally young. Vic has similarly vague superpowers, and the show feels more interested in its trite depiction of the rich/poor class dynamics amongst McQueen's family and friends. A modern take on the classic vampire story could have had some life in it, but NOS4A2 is unfortunately bone dry.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Charlie Manx. Is he a vampire? How is he different or similar to vampires in other shows or fantasy worlds? Why would NOS4A2 want to mess with the vampire archetype? How does it inform the action on the show?
What is Vic's relationship with her parents like? Why? How does alcohol affect those relationships?
How does Vic interact with her peers? How does Vic's home life affect her socially?
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