Warning: spoilers for Stranger Things season two lie ahead.
Although Stranger Things is rated TV-14, upon binge-watching season two I think I'd personally give season one a PG-13 rating and the second season closer to an R rating, simply because the Duffer brothers turned everything from violence to swearing up a few notches in the show's latest nine episodes. Whether you and your teen both loved season one of the Netflix series, they've yet to start the series at all, or they watched the first alone and you've caught onto the hype around season two, there are a few things you should know before they get sucked into
the Upside Down a multiepisode binge-sesh — with or without you.
Ahead, 10 things you need to know before your teen devours the second season like we did.
- This season has a lot more blood and gore. I found myself saying "yuck" and faux gagging much more this season because not only are there more deaths and violent episodes, but it seemed like there is more focus on graphically showing those types of scenes in general (I was practically begging for the camera to pan out while a creature mauled one of the characters).
- And there are more scary/jumpy scenes. From the aforementioned creatures to Eleven strangling a man with her mind, there are a bunch more scenes during this season that made me squint my eyes and watch through my fingers. Your average teen will probably be more brave than I am, but who isn't a little spooked by a giant shadow monster entering a 13-year-old's body while his eyes roll violently into the back of his head? Which brings me to the next thing . . .
- Will draws the short straw again this season and becomes possessed by a freaky shadow monster. After the aforementioned incident, Will becomes one with the shadow monster in a way; he lashes out, turns against his friends and family, and says some seriously creepy things. When the shadow monster is being attacked in the Upside Down, Will can feel its pain, and his reactions to that are pretty scary.
- There's quite a bit more swearing than in season one. Although most of this can be attributed to the mouths of Dustin (whose entrance into the season involves him screaming "Son of a b*tch" twice) and Steve (who lovingly calls the younger kids "sh*theads" repeatedly), several characters take to swearing to articulate their feelings this season (like Nancy, who had to have set some kind of record for how many "bullsh*t"s she fit into one sentence).
- Teens are shown smoking and underage drinking. Nancy in particular gets extremely wasted at a Halloween party, slurring her words and saying a lot of things she then seems to wish she could take back later on. Nancy and Jonathan chug vodka with a conspiracy theorist at one point, and Max's stepbrother Billy is smoking a cigarette essentially every time he's featured on screen. If you haven't talked to your teen much about drugs and alcohol yet, these scenes may provide a good segue into the conversation.
- Sex between two teens is implied. Although it's consensual and nothing more than kissing is shown on screen, depending on your teen and their age, you may want to open up the floor for questions about sex, relationships, and more.
- A lot of weapons are shown and used. Hopper isn't the only one with a gun this season — lab employees and even some of the teens get their hands on them to try to take out the Upside Down's frightening creatures. Not to mention, Steve's bat full of nails is back, as is Lucas's slingshot, plus there are some new weapons that the Hawkins lab employees use to set literal fire to the Upside Down.
- A new character's dad is abusive toward his son and degrades women. Billy's dad attacks his son physically (and it seems like it's most certainly not the first time), which is not only scary, but a topic you may want to bring up with your children. Not only that, but now more than ever, addressing the man's derogatory language in reference to women is important.
- Billy, too, gets superviolent. Billy and our unlikely season one hero, Steve, have tension all season, which comes to a head in the finale, when the pair beat the pulp out of each other after Billy threatens Max. The scene is pretty intense and graphic (I honestly thought for a minute that Steve could die), so much so that even the other characters seem frightened, and their reactions to the brawl play out in slow motion as the boys fight.
- There's one character whose only goal (pretty much) in life is to murder those who have wronged her. I love an underdog revenge plot as much as the next guy, but Kali's storyline is violent, scary, and in my opinion, a bit too much. I'm all for setting fire to the rain Adele-style, but this girl has some stuff to work through when it comes to how easily she's able to off those who took away her shot at a normal life — Eleven's hesitation to succumb to Kali's murderous peer pressure will likely send that hint to your teen, but just in case, know that the girl's desire for revenge is real.