According to The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC), Netflix’s TV 14 rating for its hit, Stranger Things, is inappropriate considering the content of the show. And it is not hard to see their point. If one takes a look at the kind of content that would otherwise be rated R at a movie theater like course language, brutality, simulated murder, blood and gore, even child endangerment (which is rampant on the series) it does not seem at all inappropriate to push the streamer to give Stranger Things a TV MA rating.
“Our research found that explicit language including the ‘f-word’ and ‘s-word’ air uncensored numerous times in Stranger Things – a line that was historically rarely crossed in programs rated for 13- and 14-year-olds. The frequency of this explicit language plus an increase in graphic violence should warrant a TV-MA rating and we call Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos to personally ensure Stranger Things’ TV-14 rating is increased,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
Netflix really doesn’t have much to lose for doing so either. While a Rated R feature at the movie theater would otherwise merit an ID check, within reason, and therefore possibly hurt the distribution of a film, everything on Netflix is free to stream for anybody who clicks on it. The higher rating would just be an indicator that the content is not suitable for younger audiences. Stranger Things is one of those unique shows that could easily attract younger audiences considering the ages of the actors, especially at the start of the series. But despite the age of the characters, even the first season addresses topics like education, murder and date rape. As the show has progressed and the actors have naturally aged up, the content of the show has grown darker. Consider the film “IT”, which like Stranger Things also featured Finn Wolfhard. The story is a movie where a demon in the form of a clown stalks and murders children in a small town. That movie doesn’t feature any full frontal nudity or some other things that merit an R rating but the subject matter and language earned it an R rating. Stranger Things is a story about an otherworldly monser from another dimension who stalks, kills, and abducts young teenagers and it only gets worse from there.
One might actually be surprised at the content that Netflix rates as TVMA. It’s difficult to find a comedy special that does not carry the rating with no murder, rape or violence displayed simply because of the subject matters discussed.
Changing the rating would do nothing to prevent views of the show. It would only inform parents that maybe the content is a step more adult than say a show on Disney+ or a Marvel movie. Just because something is science fiction or fantasy and features a young cast does not mean kids show.