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 teens who enjoy Pretty Little Liars will want to tune in for Ravenswood, a darker, spookier spin-off centered on the enigmatic character of Caleb Rivers. This one's content is much the same as its predecessor's, shadowing a group of teens on the trail of a mystery that often puts their lives in jeopardy, and there are some truly frightening moments at the hands of a ghostly figure who often shows up unannounced. Expect some requisite teen kissing and relationship angst, language like "hell" and "damn," and intentionally uninvolved adults, many of whom hide what they know about the town's mystery, thus driving the teens to fly solo in trying to solve it.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn) and Miranda Collins (Nicole Gale Anderson) are newly acquainted when they arrive in Ravenswood, each hoping the town holds answers to questions about their respective families. Instead they find further mysteries around every bend, starting with cemetery markers that bear their names and likenesses, and a thorough rebuffing from Raymond Collins (Steven Cabral), Miranda's uncle and only living relative. When their paths cross with three local teens –- siblings Luke (Brett Dier) and Olivia (Merritt Patterson), who are coping with their mother's suspected murder of their father; and Remy Beaumont (Britne Oldford), whose mother's return from active duty holds some mystery of its own –- all five find themselves connected to a decades-old curse that's interwoven in the town's history.
Is it any good?
Eerie, sinister RAVENSWOOD is a proper extension of the teen thriller Pretty Little Liars, and creators definitely knew what they were doing when they tapped Caleb's character to be the linchpin...not to mention its comely poster boy. His serpentine demeanor suits the goth-style series perfectly, and his sardonic charm never fails to lighten even the heaviest mood. Despite being a newcomer to Ravenswood, he immediately makes friends (plus a few enemies), which sets off a chain of events that throw him and Miranda into a brand-new mystery teens will love. Also, for those who might worry that this spells the end of Caleb's ties to neighboring Rosewood and the Liars, crossover content and characters imply this won't be the case.
As to whether Ravenswood is suitable for your teens, it's all about knowing their sensitivities, since this show is noticeably darker than Liars in both its setting and its tone. Then there's the added element of a fatal curse and a visible, haunting ghost who often startles the audience and spells doom for the characters at every turn. Most teens today likely can handle these kinds of scares, but if your younger ones are on the fence, give it some careful consideration before letting them watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this show portrays adults. Are they at all helpful to the teens when they turn to them for answers or help? Does the fact that the teens are forced to face the mystery themselves make the show more exciting? How does this attitude compare to your experiences with adults?
Teens: Have you seen Pretty Little Liars? If so, why do you think Caleb's character was chosen to star in a new series? Do you think the show stands a better chance of success because of its ties to another already popular one? If you haven't seen Liars, are you inclined to want to watch it because of Ravenswood?
A common theme in this series (and in its predecessor) concerns the dangers of keeping secrets. Is honesty always the best policy, regardless of the issue? What, if anything, should we keep to ourselves? How can some secrets escalate beyond their original threat?
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