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The Twilight Zone
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 Twilight Zone is the newest reboot of the beloved sci-fi series from the late '50s/early '60s that is hosted by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us). Like the original, episodes are guest star-studded morality plays with supernatural overtones -- only this series is a little edgier features a copious amount of adult language, including "f--k." Characters are seen smoking and drinking, there's talking and joking about sex. Violence is mostly implied and not shown.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE TWILIGHT ZONE is a revamped version of the classic black-and-white, Rod Serling-hosted series that ran from 1959-1964 and is still being shown in re-runs to this day. Like the original series, the show has an anthology format, each episode with its own self-contained plot and a new cast of characters -- in this case, embodied by actors such as John Cho, Ike Barinholtz, Sanaa Lathan, Chris O'Dowd and Taissa Farmiga. The stories are morality tales, usually offering uncanny surprises and twist endings that offer some sort of commentary on the human condition -- and often with overtones of sci-fi, fantasy, or horror. Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele serves as executive producer and narrator, popping in at the beginning and end of each episode to make deadpan observations about the story and its themes.
Is it any good?
Rebooting a beloved genre series like this offered producers the chance to showcase inventive and fresh voices, but sadly, they've chosen to rehash tired old plotlines that even nostalgia can't save. The episodes are just too darn long: old school Twilight Zone eps clocked in at 30 minutes, while these are stretched out to an interminable 60 minutes on average, a length the stories just aren't strong enough to withstand. (The original series made a similar misstep in their fourth season, a move that creator Rod Serling fiercely opposed.) The Twilight Zone has historically offered up creepy and memorable little fables that made you think about moral quandaries, about humanity, even about the nature of reality itself. These themes are wasted when padded out with so much repetition and filler, which gives audiences far too long to guess the utterly predictable twists; in one especially eye-rolling case, a character actually speaks the "surprise" ending out loud. The protracted runtime also gives viewers far too many chances to think about how little internal logic the show even has -- stories break down under even the mildest scrutiny here.
Parents looking to kick back and binge-watch the series with their kids may also be confounded by the show's decision to pepper in a ton of F-bombs and other profanities, which seems to be the main thing driving its TV-MA rating. It's a goofy, misguided choice that really serves no purpose other than to remind viewers they're in 2019, that "this isn't your grandma's Twilight Zone!" If that's really the case, why not create some new storylines and offer new perspectives instead of rehashing plots we've seen already? Though Adam Scott does a decent job with what he's given, his episode ("Nightmare at 30,000 Feet") has already been made twice before, with William Shatner in 1963 and John Lithgow in 1983. Should the show move forward, it would do well to work on developing original ideas and finding its own distinctive voice rather than treading in sentimentality and trying to update it with swear words and smartphones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difficult choices characters are faced with in The Twilight Zone, and whether or not they think they were wise to make them. How might things have turned out differently if another path was taken? What sort of themes did you pick up from each episode?
For kids who love science fiction
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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.