A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's teen characters are on the side of humanity and peace, the older characters (most, anyway) are on the side of power, money, and evil, though some clearly care about their kids and notice how and what they're doing. Characters frequently mock each other: Gert is called a "loser" and an "insufferable social justice warrior," Chase a "roided-out jockstrap" and a "dumb jock."
Positive Role Models
Characters are complicated and have soap opera-ish problems: things from their past, things they are ashamed of, failings they suffer from. There are so many characters it's hard to focus on just one, but Alex emerges as an emotionally intelligent character who isn't afraid to show his friends that he cares about them.
Violence & Scariness
It's set in a superhero fantasy world, so expect sci-fi-type violence: beams of light that knock people unconscious; super-strong characters who throw others against the wall; a comatose figure with eerie flaking skin wearing a creepy breathing apparatus in a hospital room. Some violence also has a sexual edge: a teen girl passes out at a party; two teen boys take her upstairs and start unbuckling her clothing before she is rescued by another boy. A woman walking down a dark street is set upon by men who grab her shoulders; she punches their hands away. Two women taser someone.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Expect flirting, dating, same- and opposite-sex kissing and the occasional salty reference, as when a mom advises her teen daughter to ease menstrual cramps by going into the bathroom and giving herself an orgasm because the "oxytocins are natural pain relief."
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Language includes "ass," "s--t," "hell," "douche" (used as an insult). A girl putting on makeup in a mirror shoots herself a two-handed bird. A girl is called "loser" repeatedly.
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Products & Purchases
The evil parents live in a fancy section of Los Angeles; the kids go to an upscale private school. Houses are huge and elegant, with expensive furnishings and appointments. Brands of computers, phones, and other products are concealed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink from red Solo cups at a party with "no IDs needed." A girl is given a pill by a strange (and older looking) man who asks "Wanna party?" "What does it do?" the girl asks. "Set you free," says the man. Later, when the girl passes out, two teen boys try to rape her in a bedroom. We see later that she didn't take the pill. A group of teens sneak into a home office to drink their parents' liquor; they pour drinks from a decanter of brown liquid but don't end up drinking them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Runaways is a show based on the same-named Marvel comic book series about a group of teens with otherworldly powers and their parents, who are involved in a murky enterprise. Some content gets a bit iffy, particularly a scene in which a teen girl is given a mysterious pill by an odd, older man and then, after she passes out, is taken to a back bedroom by two teen boys who start undoing her clothes. Teens also seem to take drinking casually, drinking from their parents' liquor cabinets and from red Solo cups at a party. Expect flirting, dating, same- and opposite-sex kissing, and scenes like one in which a mom advises her daughter to give herself an orgasm to get menstrual cramp pain relief. Language includes "ass," "s--t," and "hell," as well as insults like "douche," "loser," and "roided-out jockstrap." Most of the characters live in an upscale Los Angeles suburb where kids go to private school and parents have wine cellars, pools, and fancy cars.
Is It Any Good?
With multiple storylines, more than a dozen main characters, and a mishmash of genres, this superhero soap should be a great big mess -- instead, it's complex and compelling. The last time such an appealing group of teens with nothing in common were pulled together, they were doing detention together in The Breakfast Club. Here, they're working on something a little more serious than sneaking around their high school, but Runaways scores by anchoring its otherworldly elements in high school drama, where a cheerleader audition takes on as much emotional weight as working out why your parents like to gather in a mysterious basement temple in red robes making human sacrifices. And so jock-with-a-heart Chase (Gregg Sulkin), "perfect church girl" (who happens to be gay) Karolina (Virginia Gardner), punky feminist Gert (Ariela Barer), grieving goth Nico (Lyrica Okano), insecure wannabe Molly (Allegra Acosta), and lonely brain Alex (Rhenzy Feliz) have something new in common.
Runaways excels, too, at ferreting out the emotional core of its high-concept plot. Adolescents discovering their powers (and the obvious puberty metaphor) is a superhero trope, but when Molly realizes what she thought were period cramps were instead the onset of her super-strength, she jumps into the air with infectious glee. "Yes! Yes! I did it!" she crows. Now this is a character with agency, and it's thrilling to watch. Try this exciting, escapist drama out for whole-family viewing -- it's got something for everybody.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.