- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

The latest season of Netflix’s popular paranormal series “Stranger Things” has gotten saltier in its language, said a new report from a family video streaming service.

The third season of the ‘80s-throwback drama of small-town children in fictional Hawkins, Indiana, premiered on July 4 to the biggest audience over four days of any original streaming show in history, according to Nielsen.

But California-based VidAngel, a company that allows viewers to skip over adult content, said in a new report that season three will be tough viewing for ears sensitive to profanity or blasphemy.

“The number of profanities and instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain have increased season by season in ‘Stranger Things,’” VidAngel founder Neal Harmon told The Washington Times on Friday.

Three content screeners working for VidAngel flagged a higher number of profanity and blasphemy than any of the two prior seasons, Mr. Harmon said.

The company previously reported “Stranger Things,” which follows the paranormal encounters of budding teenagers and stars Winona Ryder as a single-mom, had an uptick in adult language from the first to the second season, as well.

“Given that this particular show is centered on young characters, and given its content rating, it is very likely that children are consuming it in huge numbers,” said Parents Television Council President Tim Winter. “Netflix should reconsider the teen content rating, and parents need to be aware of just how graphic this show has become.”

“Stranger Things,” which is owned by Netflix and created by Matt and Ross Duffer, has a TV-14 rating, meaning content generally appropriate for children over 14. Some point to the show’s maturing themes and situations, however, worried about normalizing bad behavior.

“Westworld” actress Evan Rachel Wood, a vocal campaigner against domestic violence, took to Twitter to critique the show’s police chief (played by actor David Harbour) as “abusive” and “toxic,” after an episode when the chief reacts explosively against Ms. Ryder’s character for missing a dinner.

Other viewers have objected to a scene when a teenage lifeguard flirts with a married mother.

VidAngel data reported 247 profanities in season 3 of “Stranger Things,” compared to 223 in season 2 and 109 in the inaugural season. The service also counted a doubling in blasphemies since the first season. The report does not describe how it defines profanity or blasphemy.

“Our philosophy is directors should be able to make what they want as long as viewers are free to view how they want,” Mr. Harmon said.

“Stranger Things” wouldn’t be the first popular Netflix show to face criticism for adult content. The teen drama “13 Reasons Why” was rated TV-MA (for mature audiences) but still drew condemnation from some critics for seeming to normalize suicidal thoughts of children. A study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital showed a surge in teenage suicides during the month the series premiered.

• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at cvondracek@washingtontimes.com.

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