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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 The Society is a dark drama about a group of teens who are mysteriously dropped off in what looks like their hometown -- but it's abandoned and seemingly cut off from the rest of the world. Life-and-death stakes underlie this series, and characters do die onscreen, usually suddenly and violently, like when a main character is shot or a girl is bitten by a snake and dies, crying for her mother. Deaths may involve a little blood but no gore, and dead bodies are sometimes shown at length. Sexual content is also mature; expect both same- and opposite-sex kissing and scenes like one in which a boy buries his head underneath a girl's skirt (for implied oral sex) as she moans. Teens drink and use drugs casually; scenes show students sharing a joint close to their school and a boy taking a Xanax that was prescribed to his mom. In other scenes, teens guzzle beer and drink from Solo cups. Language is frequent: "f--k," "f--ked," "bitch," "a--hole," "t-ts," "f-g," and more. The cast lacks ethnic and racial diversity, but a main character is deaf and uses sign language; other characters frequently sign with him.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Something strange has happened to the teen cast of THE SOCIETY: a school camping trip went awry, but when the buses dropped them off back home, they weren't exactly home. Their town still looks the same, but everyone else is gone: parents, teachers, adults, younger kids. The electricity's still on (but how? And for how long?), and there's still food to eat (until it runs out), but there's no Wi-Fi, no cable, no 911. The kids of West Ham are on their own. What comes next?
Is it any good?
With its intriguing premise and better-than-usual cast of young actors, at its best this show is a teen Lost -- but lacks that show's brisk plotting and quirky characterizations. Instead, The Society moves more slowly, particularly in early episodes, where it seems to take the cast forever to grasp the predicament they're in and start drifting towards a meaty conflict. It eventually arrives, with the town's 200+ teens coalescing into basically two forces: an orderly democracy led by former West Ham student body president Cassandra (Rachel Keller), and a group who advocates an everyone-for-themselves policy, led by Harry (Alex Fitzalan).
A good Lord of the Flies clash is always welcome, and this show obliges; the plot picks up pace as the season moves on, and viewers should be warned not to get overly attached to any one character, because they won't all make it. But with such a large cast given glancing characterizations, it can be hard to tell who's betraying who, and why. A more diverse cast would help -- there are multiple handsome floppy-haired male cast members, as well as several seemingly interchangeable female blondes -- as would more time concentrating on just a few main characters. As it is, audiences may get the sense that the show is just setting up a deep bench of warm bodies to be cannon fodder later, which lowers the stakes considerably. In short, this show isn't the addictive pleasure Lost is, but it's a decent enough binge for a stay-at-home weekend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Society's plot and which parts are actually plausible. Where do you believe the teens of West Ham to be? Is their abandonment realistic? What about what happens when they're left on their own?
Who are the series' most positive role models? Can a character have flaws and still be heroic? How do earth-shattering events in real life create opportunities for ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts of heroism?
For kids who love drama
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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.