The 7 Lives of Lea
The 7 Lives of Lea
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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 in The 7 Lives of Lea teens struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and the pain of hiding their sexuality. Violence is central to the show: At the beginning of the series, Ismael's skeleton is found in the desert and the viewer doesn't know if he was murdered or died by suicide. Characters face many scary situations -- including bullying, physical fighting, and a violent hate crime -- as the viewer tries to figure out how Ismael died. It's implied that the police don't care about Ismael's possible killing because he wasn't White. Racial slurs such as "rag head" and "curly-haired slave" are used. Lea's dad has a drinking problem and knocks over a table in an angry outburst and another character recounts being the victim of domestic abuse. Teenagers drink excessively and do unspecified drugs. They openly smoke cigarettes at school and regularly smoke marijuana when hanging out. A boy is secretly growing a large amount of pot on his father's farm and a group of the teenagers do acid with an adult. A teenage boy is shown masturbating, without nudity. The mean girl asks Lea if she calls her boyfriend "Daddy" in bed. There's kissing and the teens talk about people sleeping together. One boy kisses another without his consent. A teenager is shown having sex with an adult who is 40 years older and it's implied that they're in an ongoing relationship; both are naked but her hair covers her breasts and no other sensitive body parts are shown. Profanity is used throughout, including "f--k," "s--t," "motherf--ker," "ass," "asshole," "bitch," and "hell."
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What's the Story?
THE 7 LIVES OF LEA begins with the title character (Raïka Hazanavicius) finding the remains of a teenage boy, Ismael (Khalil Ben Gharbia). The event takes her back to 1991 and sees her wake up every morning in the body of a different person. Along the way, she uncovers old secrets and new understandings about her family's past.
Is It Any Good?
At first glance, this '90s-set body-swap dramedy seems to be nothing new, yet the unfolding story reveals a surprisingly nuanced, diverse cast of teens dealing with timelessly relatable issues. The 7 Lives of Lea, a French production, has themes that are universal. Ambitiously aiming to cover everything from substance abuse and suicidal ideation to the immigrant experience, the series does extend itself a bit too far. Pulling it back from the realm of total melodrama, though, are moments of real levity intermixed with a spot-on '90s aesthetic and soundtrack. Also working in the show's favor is seeing the murder mystery told through multiple perspectives. Though sometimes a little too removed from reality (do none of these teenagers have parents in the picture?) the series manages to talk about mental health, sexuality, burgeoning adulthood, and more in a tone that doesn't talk down to its teenage audience. Parents will want to note, however, that this is sometimes at the expense of logical consequences. With a satisfyingly tight season of only seven episodes, and a somewhat clunky ending, this series will keep viewers' attention and give them a lot to discuss once the dust settles.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Ismael's experiences with racism and bullying. In what ways does he feel trapped by his situation? How do his bullies use both words and violence to hurt him? What would you do if you were being bullied, or saw someone else being bullied?
Does the unique format of this show make it more engaging? Did you like how Lea jumped into a new body each episode? What about the time travel aspect?
How does this French series portray teenagers differently than an American series might? Specifically, how is teenage drinking and drug use addressed?
- Premiere date: April 28, 2022
- Cast: Raïka Hazanavicius, Khalil Ben Gharbia
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: High School
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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