PTC to Netflix CEO: Stranger Things Needs TV-MA Rating

Written by PTC | Published July 14, 2022

LOS ANGELES (July 14, 2022) – The Parents Television and Media Council(PTC) has called on Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos to personally review and increase the age-based content rating for Stranger Things, in light of new research finding that the TV-14-rated program has steadily introduced more explicit adult content with each new season resulting in a shocking increase of uncensored profanity and graphic violence.

“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.

The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) analyzed the program content of each episode of all four seasons of Stranger Things utilizing content filtering data from the streaming video company VidAngel. Major findings include:

  • A 217% increase in profanity from season 1 to season 4. [Note: Explicit language is uncensored in the program.]
  • A 739% increase in the frequency of the word “sh*t” from season 1 to season 4.
  • Stranger Things did not introduce the “f-word” until part-way through its second season, but then used it six times in season 2, and five times in season 3, and nine times in season 4. It is useful here to remember that under the TVOMB content ratings system, the use of a single “f-word” on basic cable and expanded-basic cable television programming has traditionally triggered a “TV-MA” content rating. And on broadcast television and radio, a single use of the “f-word” has run afoul of indecency laws enforced by the Federal Communications Commission.
  • A 307% increase in violence from season 1 to season 4. Of note, season 4’s first episode contains depictions of dead children.
  • A 705% increase in graphic violence from season 1 to season 4.

“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. 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,” Winter said.

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