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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wayward Sisters is a Supernatural spin-off that's nearly as thrilling -- and just as violent -- as its parent show, so if Supernatural isn't already on your teens' watch list, be sure to carefully assess their readiness for this one. Monsters of all shapes and sizes threaten humans and make the content impossible to predict in advance. Battles are bloody, feature weapons like guns and knives, and usually result in death, sometimes of the good guys as well as the bad guys. And speaking of good and bad, it's not always a clear-cut concept, as the characters must make tough decisions that put themselves and others in jeopardy for the supposed greater good. Expect some explicit language ("damn," "hell," "s--t," and the like) but also an appealing and understated "girl power" theme in this series that Supernatural fans will want to see.
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What's the story?
WAYWARD SISTERS opens when Supernatural's Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) go missing and their longtime pal Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) follows clues from a cryptic phone message to locate them. (Sound familiar, Supernatural fans?) Her foster daughters and fellow survivors of the supernatural, Alex Jones (Katherine Ramdeen) and Claire Novak (Kathryn Newton), join the chase, along with Patience Turner (a psychic still coming into her powers) (Clark Backo), Kaia Nieves (a dream walker who was the last to see the guys) (Yadira Guevara-Prip), and Donna Hanscum (Briana Buckmaster). As the women work to save the Winchester brothers, they become hunters -- and a family of sorts -- in their own right.
Is it any good?
This suspenseful fantasy horror series has big shoes to fill in claiming relation to fans' beloved Supernatural, but it gets a lot of things right from the very start. First and foremost, Wayward Sisters doesn't mess too much with a good thing. The cast consists of six familiar faces from Supernatural's nearly 13 seasons -- the guys' favorite sheriff and maternal type, Jody, who's helped out in many a tight spot; Donna, another law enforcement official brought into hunting by fate; former vampire hostage Alex; Claire, the daughter of the angel Castiel's human vessel; Patience, whose psychic gift puts her at odds with her dad; and Kaia, whose powers Sam and Dean tapped into to try to find their mom. As alums of a parent series that's delighted fans for more than a decade, these Wayward Sisters are in a unique position to forge their own legacy by staying true to what makes Supernatural magical.
This show isn't destined to win over every Supernatural fan, and those whose allegiance to the series leans heavily on the relationship between Sam and Dean will find it particularly difficult to make the transition. It's also a bit of a leap of faith for viewers who know nothing about the Winchesters' history, how each of these women fits in, and what accounts for their self-sacrificing devotion to each other. Even so, it's abundantly clear that as much as it's possible to hold a candle to Supernatural and the brothers Winchester, the Wayward Sisters aim to do just that, and with a little luck and some careful character development, this series might just become a guilty pleasure in its own right.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the female hunters in Wayward Sisters compare to their male Supernatural counterparts. Does the show suggest they're on equal footing as far as their physical abilities and mental toughness go? How have society's views on gender and equality evolved of late? Are all of these changes positive?
What defines a family? How do these women reflect family values? Why are they willing to sacrifice everything for each other?
What positive character strengths do you see at work in these women? At what points do they display courage? Fortitude? Determination to do the right thing, even when it's the hard thing? Would you be able to face down challenges like they do?
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