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 The Innocents is a dark, serious love story with science fiction elements. Mild scenes of teen sex are mixed with kinkier club scenes and a fair amount of drug use. But violence is probably the big concern here, with bloody fistfights, electrocution as part of scientific experiments, and death by gunshot. A key character's shape-shifting experience is also depicted as painful and scary. More similar in tone to The OA and The Returned than to Stranger Things, this well-acted drama is a great pick for older teens who don't need big thrills but enjoy a story that unravels at a deliberate pace.
What's the story?
In THE INNOCENTS, teen June (Sorcha Groundsell) has an absent mother, an overprotective stepfather, an agoraphobic brother, and Harry (Percelle Ascott), a boy who loves her. On her 16th birthday, the same day her father plans to move the family from their small English town to an isolated Scottish island, June and Harry run away. Not on the road for more than a couple of hours, the newly freed couple stop to help a stranded motorist -- and then things start to get weird. A man claiming to know where June's mother is tries to force her into a van. Harry hits him with a tire iron and they move the unconscious body into the woods and take off. When June revisits the body, she finds the man still alive; however, when she touches him, she begins to painfully shape-shift until she looks exactly like the man. In her new guise of a large bearded man in his 40s, June makes her way back to the motel. After a shocking reunion, she's able to convince Harry that it's her. Eventually June shifts back to herself. Now the two young lovers need to figure out not only how to survive on their own but how to control June's condition while eluding their mysterious pursuers.
Is it any good?
Well-acted, and with a layered plot and satisfying revelations, this series begins a bit shakily, and viewers can't be blamed for thinking this is going to be just another "teenager with special powers goes on the run" kind of show. The Innocents soon differentiates itself by not letting the story or the circumstances veer toward the fantastical. It treats the standard situation of teenagers running away realistically and the condition of shape-shifting seriously, and grounds the story with believable consequences. The focus here is more on character development and personal dynamics than on fast-paced action and sci-fi spectacle. Apart from its shape-shifting concept, this is primarily a love story that looks at not only the young love of June and Harry but also other complex variations of connection -- between husbands and wives, parents and children, and more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the often used storytelling device of running away from home. How does The Innocents depict it? Scary? Fun? Hard?
Many characters in the show have to cope with loss or abandonment. How does the loss that Harry experiences differ from June's or Runa's?