Stranger Things

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Stranger Things TV Poster Image
Dark "strange invader" drama will appeal to sci-fi fans.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 125 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 374 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Children are generally the clued-in, curious, and courageous characters in this drama, which will make young viewers feel powerful and confident. Military and medical authorities are not to be trusted, which may make viewers suspicious of authority figures in their own lives. However, the importance of family and friendship underscores all the action.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents are present, responsible, and very concerned about their children. A tight friend group of boys deals with their chaotic world by being kind, open, and willing to listen to each other. They often hug and show their love for each other in clear ways without worrying about looking “manly.” A tween girl is one of the strongest characters. Their teamwork is often fraught with bickering, but ultimately the boys and Eleven come together and use their smarts and communication skills to solve problems. 

Violence

A man is taken by a mysterious creature from above, and his body is pulled into the air; a young boy is kidnapped by an offscreen force while his distraught mother searches for him; a strange creature leaves a pulsing, otherworldly web and makes growling noises when it's around. A young girl is a captive in some type of military/medical experiment; guns are brandished, while others are killed instantly by mysterious powers. A sympathetic character is suddenly shot and killed; blood and gore shown briefly. A slimy, disturbing underworld is depicted and may be scary to sensitive viewers. 

Sex

Teen characters kiss in a bathroom between classes; discussion of dating, flirting. A steamy make-out scene occurs in a bedroom; a teen takes her shirt off to expose her bra. 

Language

Cursing includes "s--t," "hell," "a--hole," "dammit"; a woman calls another a "bitch"; one boy calls another a "p---y" and says they're "screwed." Bullies call a trio of misfit friends "freaks," "toothless" (in reference to a character with a genetic disorder), "frog face," and "midnight" (in reference to an African-American character). Other language: "pissed off," a sister calling her brother a "douche bag."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Joyce smokes during stressful moments, and the sheriff appears to have a pill and alcohol addiction. Underage drinking, sometimes to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Stranger Things is a sci-fi drama that centers on a missing child and a mysterious, dangerous creature. A young boy is taken by the creature, which emits grunts and growls and leaves behind pulsing webs of gray material. His terrified mother, brother, and group of friends search for him, as does law enforcement. There's some scary stuff: A man is pulled up into the air and presumably killed by something looming in the air above him. A sympathetic character is suddenly shot and killed; blood and gore are shown briefly. A young girl is the subject of some type of experiment; we see her escape in hospital scrubs. Medical/military authorities have complicated motives, which may make young viewers fearful of trusting authority figures. Two teens meet secretly in a school bathroom to make out; there's lots of kissing and a pretty heavy make-out scene in a bedroom, with a character removing her shirt. Language includes "hell," "damn," and "s--t"; one woman calling another a "bitch"; young characters calling each other "douche bag"; and references to being "screwed" and "pissed off." Parents and teens will have fun watching this nail-biter of a mystery.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4 and 8 year old Written byiatoolman July 18, 2016

Good tween sci-fi

It is really good, first of all. It isn't a cheesy 80's throwback film; it is more like an 80s noir, an homage. Great sci-fi/adventure story. The kid... Continue reading
Parent Written byLawrence T. October 29, 2017

Inappropriate Things

I can't believe all the parents that think this show is appropriate for any Kidd under at least 14. I stupidly started watching this with my wife and 13 yo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 18, 2016

One of the best TV shows for teens!

The show has positive messages and great role models! A kidnapped boy's mother won't stop trying to look for him and contact him until she finds him.... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byrebo344 July 15, 2016

One of TV's finest.

Stranger Things is amazing. The "retro" soundtrack is great, the acting is amazing, mainly from Finn Wolfhard, who has decent chemistry with Millie Br... Continue reading

What's the story?

STRANGER THINGS centers on the mysterious disappearance of young Will (Noah Schnapp), who vanishes in the woods while biking home from a Dungeons & Dragons session with his friends. His terrified mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and his brother, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), are certain something terrible has happened to him, and the detective leading the search team, Chief Hopper (David Harbour), is increasingly worried, too. Meanwhile, a mysterious young girl, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), has escaped from a shadowy experimental facility -- one that seems connected with an otherworldly creature that dispatches its victims from above, grunts and growls when near, and leaves behind pulsing webs of gray matter. Where is Will? What is the creature we hear but don't see? And just what are those officials up to in their secret laboratory?

Is it any good?

Dark, creepy, and sublimely intriguing, this 1980s throwback will remind you of many a vintage-era sci-fi/horror movie, in the most pleasant way imaginable. The cast is clad in dated '80s wear, walls are (fake) wood-paneled, phones are firmly attached to cords, and kids are free enough to race around on their bicycles, looking for clues. Meanwhile, a missing boy and an appeared-from-nowhere girl are our first clues that all is not as it seems in the small-town setting, as are glimpses of a military locale staffed with white-suited, terrified doctors on the trail of a huge creature who seems to have made an escape.

Violence and gore are low; atmosphere and spookiness are high -- and with characters of kid- and parent-age to relate to, the whole family will have someone to root for. Stranger Things is a bit too creepy for the youngest viewers, but tweens and teens will be interested in the mystery and compelled by the finely drawn characters, with adults additionally amused by the vintage clothing, technology, and prices, as well as charmed by the spunkiness of the middle school-age heroes, who are ready, willing, and able to save the day when the adults in their lives are stymied. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why missing children are a staple of TV drama. What type of viewer are dramas like Stranger Things hoping to appeal to? Why is a missing child such a common dramatic element? 

  • What era is this drama set in? How can you tell? Consider costuming, dialogue, props, and settings in your answer.  

  • Many reviews of Stranger Things refer to 1980s dramas such as E.T., It, and Poltergeist. How is Stranger Things like or unlike these dramas? Why are these comparisons being made? 

  • How do the characters in Stranger Things demonstrate curiosity, courage, and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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