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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 Scream is based on the 1990s horror movie series of the same name. It has a similarly dark tone and subject matter: A murderer stalks and kills high school students. Extreme graphic violence includes very gory deaths: stabbings, a throat slashing, and a decapitation. Often, the targets of this violence are young, attractive women in revealing costumes; menace is amped up with music and camera angles. Sexual content and references include same- and opposite-sex kissing, dating, flirting, and references to "getting laid." A high school student and a teacher have an affair. High school students have a party when a parent is out of town and drink liquor and beer.
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What's the story?
In MTV's TV version of the movie series of the same name, SCREAM, two decades after a series of murders rocked small-town Lakewood, a viral video starring local high school student Audrey Jenson (Bex Taylor-Klaus) seems to be the catalyst for a new spate of violence. Queen bee Nina (Bella Thorne) is murdered at her own home; as her classmates ruminate on the mystery, they carry on their high school dramas: Party girl Brooke (Carlson Young) is carrying on an affair with a teacher and other girls' boyfriends; Will (Connor Weil) is the doting boyfriend to studious Emma (Willa Fitzgerald); and Noah (John Karna) is the goofy nerd with the slasher-movie obsession. All these characters have secrets, and it's anyone's guess who's next on the chopping block.
Is it any good?
With graphic violence and the "pick 'em off one by one" plot device borrowed from the original Scream, let's just say most parents would probably prefer their grade schoolers and tweens to skip this one. That's not to say it's terrible -- actually, Scream-the-show is pretty scary and does a decent job of giving its characters some meat, essential to any horror drama. If you don't care about the characters, it's not scary, and Scream takes its time getting to know its cast. That said, many of them are tropes: the bad girl, the good girl, the jock, the nerd. We've seen these characters before, and given that the setup isn't exactly fresh, the whole enterprise may be doomed. It's particularly galling that most of the violence centers on young girls, with a male villain stalking them.
However, there's a bit of smart writing here. The advent of cell phones really messed up a lot of horror plots; now that it's tough to realistically strand your characters somewhere with no help, it's a lot harder to scare the audience. So Scream gets points for integrating smartphones and social media into its plot. Horror-movie fans may want to give this one a look, but parents will definitely want to watch first to make sure sensitive teens won't get too freaked out.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why do most horror movies feature men killing women? What does that say about what the audience wants to see or what moviemakers want to show us? Can you think of a horror movie or show that has a different setup?
Do the actors playing teens in Scream look like 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds to you? Would it surprise you to know most of the actors are in their twenties? Why do high school movies so rarely use high school-age actors?
Parties in big houses are a staple of teen dramas. Have you ever been to a party like this? Do they exist in real life?