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 WandaVision centers on two characters from the Marvel universe: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). Here they're a married couple starring in a series of homages to vintage-style TV sitcoms that progress in era as the show goes on, starting in the 1950s. So content starts out very tame, with mild cursing ("damn"), references to drinking ("How is anybody doing this sober?"), and a scene in which a married couple turns out the lights and crawls under the covers together. But as the "real" modern world starts breaking through the WandaVision sitcoms, expect mature content to increase, especially violence, since superhero narratives typically progress to battles involving super powers, destructive villains, and deadly battles with lots of special effects. A scene in an early episode in which a character crawls unexpectedly out of a manhole in a beekeeper costume and turns to show that he has no face clues viewers in to expect spooky visuals, sudden shocks, and unexpected violence. Another unsettling moment shows bright red blood on the hand of a character otherwise depicted in black and white.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
WANDAVISION stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany as Vision -- you know them as heroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When we meet them, 1950s-era Wanda and Vision have just arrived to their perfect new home, in a perfect new suburb where they can set about being as normal as possible with periodic wacky visits from nosy neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), of course. But when Wanda and Vision start questioning their lives -- and when messages from Somewhere Else begin to break through -- the couple soon realizes all is not as it seems.
Is it any good?
Intriguingly weird and singular, this series is a real swing-for-the-fences outing from a studio that usually serves up standard big-smash battles dressed up with suits and ludicrous science. And if nothing else, WandaVision gives Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany to brilliantly illuminate some new aspects of their underdone movie characters. As a sitcom wife of the '50s (and then the '60s, and then the later '60s), Olsen is as twinkly and charming as Mrs. Brady or Lucy, while Bettany works the befuddled husband bit to perfection in a cardigan sweater and skinny ties. The styling of each vintage TV episode is perfection -- watch for touches that will bring to mind The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Brady Bunch -- and the hoary plots stolen from another era are choice too: Vision's boss unexpectedly comes for dinner, Wanda has to impress a snooty mom at school in order to fit in.
Yet there are hints that all is not as it seems on Wanda and Vision's idyllic block, and those hints are ramping up as the season progresses, and Wanda and Vision know it too. They can't remember where they came from, who they really are, why strange messages keep breaking through from ... where? Another place? Another world? Transforming mediocre Marvel characters into time-skipping TV stereotypes in service of a plot that no doubt will eventually reveal Big Plans by Big Bads is an inspired idea that transforms what could have been a tiresome coming-of-age superhero backstory into something more: a puzzle, a mystery, a surprise. You won't be able to look away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how often fantasy and science fiction are ways to talk about tough real-world issues. Does the acceptance of the unreal make it easier to discuss the real? What real-world evils are represented by the forces that are hunting Wanda and Vision?
What time period is the show set in? How can you tell? How does a show communicate its setting in costumes, styling, stage dressing? Does the time period of the show change? What dramatic purpose is served by the changes in setting? How do visuals change as the setting changes?
What's the difference between TV shows and movies? What types of stories can be told in a movie versus episodically on television? Which do you prefer?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love Marvel
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.
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