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 Returned is a creepy drama about dead people who mysteriously return to life. It's more akin to a ghost story than a zombie drama, however: No flesh-eating revenants lusting for brains, but still, very young viewers are likely to be at the very least unsettled and possibly traumatized by this show. Disturbing scenes include a suicide, a school bus full of students driving suddenly off a cliff, a stabbing, and so on. Blood and gore are light, but with the goings on that examine characters' grief and confusion, even gore-free scenes are likely to affect sensitive viewers. Many scenes take place in bars; characters smoke cigarettes and curse ("hell," "a--hole"). There are frequent sex scenes, including those between teens, with moaning and thrusting but no nudity; female characters are shown in underwear.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE RETURNED, the American remake of the French drama of the same name, certain long-dead residents of a mysterious small town are suddenly coming back to life: a teen whose school bus drove off a cliff on a school trip, a groom who died on the way to a wedding, a wife swept away when a local dam gave way. Their bereft loved ones had found a fragile peace. Now that peace is shattered, and questions remain. Why did one teen return when the rest of her classmates stayed properly dead? What mysterious force is bringing people back? Are they truly alive or in some other state altogether? Why are they here, and what will happen next?
Is it any good?
As showrunner Carlton Cuse showed aptly on Lost, he's a pro at conjuring an eerie atmosphere. The scenes in which the newly returned walk through their changed town and try to come home are genuinely, compellingly horrifying in the best tradition of terror: It doesn't just creep you out, it makes you wonder what you'd do in the same situation. How would you act if your daughter suddenly came back from the dead? And how surprised would she be coming home to find the marriage of her parents (Tandi Wright and Mark Pellegrino, both outstanding) broken up and her twin sister years older?
The Returned has a Twin Peaks vibe and not only because the scenery features green trees and rushing water. It shares a surreal, dark majesty with that show, and, as with Twin Peaks, the viewer wants to keep watching to find the answer to a central mystery. Will The Returned resolve its mysteries more satisfyingly than Twin Peaks did? Seeing as it's Cuse at the helm, the man who polarized a nation with the ending to Lost, all bets are off. Indeed, frustratingly, Cuse seems to be showing some of the same irritating tendencies. Mysteries that could be cleared up linger when characters refuse to answer questions; characters act in ways contrary to normal human behavior. It's worth noting that many fans of the French version of this series complain that the plot went off the rails as the season progressed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise of this show. Does it scare you? What would it be like if a dead loved one suddenly returned? Would you be glad? Scared? Both?
All the returned characters are young. Why? What is different or more dramatic about the death of a young person vs. an older person? Why would this show choose to focus on young returned people?
For kids who love suspenseful mysteries
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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.