The Parents Television Council is urging Netflix to change the rating on Stranger Things from TV-14 to TV-MA due to a 700 percent increase in graphic violence and the frequent use of the f-word in Season 4, saying parents cannot “do their job effectively” if series are wrongly labeled.
Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, sent a letter to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos on July 12 requesting the change.
“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,” Winter said in a news release. “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.”
The letter to Sarandos said that Stranger Things has experienced:
- “A 307% increase in violence from season 1 to season 4.”
- “A 705% increase in graphic violence from season 1 to season 4.”
- “A 217% increase in profanity from season 1 to season 4.”
- “A 739% increase in the frequency of the word ‘s–t’ from season 1 to season 4.”
- Nine uses of the f-word in Season 4. The first season had none, the letter said.
Under the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board (TVOMB) system used by Netflix, a single use of the f-word on “basic cable and expanded-basic cable television programming has traditionally triggered a ‘TV-MA’ content rating,” Winter wrote.
Season 4 also included a major plot angle involving the so-called “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s. In the series, the teens at the center of the story are falsely accused of being involved in Satan worship.
“Either the program content for Season 4 is being rated inaccurately, or between Season 1 and Season 4, there has been considerable ‘ratings creep’ with the criteria used to determine an age-based rating,” Winter wrote to Sarandos. “Neither option allows parents to do their job effectively. … Parents deserve a ratings system that is transparent and consistent across platforms.”
Photo courtesy: ©Netflix, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.