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 this thriller series is the epitome of a know-your-kid scenario. Its mature content ensures kids and tweens are out, and if your teens are sensitive to violence or the concept of the paranormal, then it’s not for them either. Excessive graphic violence is the main concern, with torture, beatings, gunfire, stabbings, beheadings, and the like portrayed as everyday occurrences for the characters. Likewise, the idea that unseen evil forces are constantly at play, threatening human existence itself, will cause some angst among all but the sturdiest viewers. Add to that the common use of strong language like "damn," "bitch," and "hell," the frequent drinking, and the characters’ (especially Dean’s) casual attitude toward sex and objectification of women, and it’s clear this one’s best for older viewers. That said, those who tune in will be treated to a well crafted series that’s as much about family bonds and raw human emotion as it is about the paranormal.
What's the story?
X-Files-meets-Hardy Boys paranormal thriller SUPERNATURAL follows the lives of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), whose extraordinary past set in motion a unique destiny that brings the guys face to face with evil in every imaginable form. When their mother died in a mysterious fire when the boys were young, their father dedicated his life to finding and destroying the demon responsible, eventually dragging his sons into the fray as well. Now they travel the country in their father’s car, hunting and killing every paranormal monster they can track, all the while searching for clues to their own unfolding destiny. As the years pass, they lose friends at the hands of countless enemies, whose faces change along with their motivations. Although they face unimaginable threats to their brotherly bond, Sam and Dean’s loyalty to each other is never tested for long, and their devotion to each other keeps them going in the face of such daunting challenges.
Is it any good?
Rooted in multicultural folklore and playing on raw human emotion, this drama is such a fan-beloved hit that its longevity has greatly exceeded creator Eric Kripke’s intended trio of seasons. Padalecki and Ackles are stellar in their roles as tortured souls Sam and Dean, each of whom wrestles with his own inner demons in addition to engaging real ones in battle. So many true-to-life issues surface in this series -- family responsibility vs. individual motivations, destiny vs. free will, the fine line between good and evil -- that astute viewers will see it’s much more than a pretty-boy drama (although the fact that the guys aren’t bad to look at is a bonus).
It’s too bad that such a smart show couldn’t be enjoyed by a general audience, but there’s just too much troubling content afoot to make this one acceptable for most teens. Violence is the main offender, since each story centers on the guys’ quest to kill some paranormal monster of sorts, and later seasons delve into the spiritual world with the introduction of some surprisingly vengeful angels. Although their intentions are always good, the guys’ lifestyle is questionable at best -- marked by credit-card fraud, heavy drinking, casual sex, and their own deals with the devil.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the series’ main theme of family loyalty. How far does Sam and Dean’s loyalty to each other go? Is this aspect of the story believable? How does their relationship compare to your own with your family?
Teens: Does this series stereotype any group of characters based on race or gender? How are the female characters portrayed in particular? How does this differ from females’ roles in classic horror films or shows?
What impression does this series give about death? How are characters’ deaths dealt with? Is this show’s violence more or less gratuitous than that in other shows or movies you’ve seen? Do you think modern allowances for violence in the media has desensitized viewers?
For kids who love sci-fi
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.