‘Stranger Things’ Deserves TV-MA Rating, Says Parents Television Council

Netflix original series 'Stranger Things'
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) said Netflix hit Stranger Things deserves a TV-MA rating, based on language. It currently has a TV-14 rating. 

The PTC said new research has revealed that the show, about kids avoiding terrifying monsters and creepy government workers in Hawkins, Indiana, “has steadily introduced more explicit adult content with each new season resulting in a shocking increase of uncensored profanity and graphic violence.”

Most of season four was released in late May, with the final two episodes of the season out July 1. PTC analyzed each episode of the four seasons. 

“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.

PTC found a 217% increase in profanity from season one  to four and a 739% increase in the frequency of the word “sh*t” from season one to four. Regarding the dreaded f-word, the series did not use it in season one, then did six times in season two, five times in season three, and nine times in season four. 

The PTC also reported a 307% increase in violence from season one to four. 

“While Netflix has never been afraid to use a TV-MA rating, we suspect it wants to attract a broad audience for Stranger Things and has rated it TV-14 for that reason,” added Winter. “However, Stranger Things’ later seasons are clearly being rated inappropriately considering the amount of explicit content. It is imperative that the TV rating system is accurate in order to be useful to parents.”

Netflix did not comment, on short notice, at presstime. The show has been a smash for the network. 

The PTC describes itself as a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. ■

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.