February 22, 2019

Superhero Shows on Netflix Mix Childhood Heroes with Graphic Sex

Do you have a child that loves superheroes? Do you have a Netflix account? Then you may have heard of Marvel’s Netflix-exclusive superhero series, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Iron Fist, and The Defenders.

These shows are readily available and advertised throughout the Netflix site and app, and may especially entice young fans of the superhero genre. While superhero content is all around us these days through a myriad of television shows and movies, Marvel’s Netflix offerings are rife with dark, violent storylines and sexually explicit scenes that are not suitable for young audiences.

To break down some of the concerns surrounding the Marvel series, we looked at parenting websites and blogs that are talking about these shows. All 5 of these programs were rated by Common Sense Media to be suitable for only audiences 15 years old and up, with several being rated at even higher ages. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were the highest, rated for audiences 17 and up. The Defenders was rated 16+, and The Iron Fist and Daredevil were the lowest at 15+. Additionally, Netflix has rated all of these shows as TV-MA, which is based on television industry-standard ratings. Compared to some of Marvel’s other popular cinematic titles such as The Avengers, rated PG-13, these ratings are much higher and are rife with more severe content such as graphic sex scenes, storylines involving rape and human trafficking, and extreme violence.

Looking at the oldest age suggestions, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, in-depth on Common Sense, both shows are rated 4 out of 5 for sex on the parents guide. For Jessica Jones, this means “Simulated sex, with bare skin but no sensitive parts (aside from buttocks) visible; rape is strongly suggested but not shown on-screen”. Luke Cage’s description reads “Steamy kissing and making out with skimpy lingerie, bare chests, views of bare breasts from the side; sex isn’t simulated but strongly suggested”.

One parent reviewed Luke Cage, saying, “The inappropriate and gratuitous sex will alienate many viewers, and especially families”. Another said about Jessica Jones, “Why should I be entertained by watching brutal, abusive, extended sex scenes?” Clearly these shows contain extreme sexual content and should not be seen by children, even those that are fans of superheroes or Marvel.

The other 3 shows are also not exempt from sexual content. The Defenders was rated with 4 out of 5 for the sex category, and Daredevil received a 2. The Iron Fist was the lowest, with Common Sense saying “not present”. However, many parent reviews say differently, making even the most “tame” Marvel show still graphic. Some parent quotes include:

  • On The Iron Fist—“Highly dismayed by the inaccuracy of Common Sense Media’s description. I would not have started watching this series had they properly represented what is in it…I [avoid] sexual content, and this site claiming that it is ‘not applicable’ is untrue”.
  • On The Defenders—“The language is mild but the sex is the main issue for kids”.
  • On Daredevil—“Children who love The Avengers should not be watching this”.

We also looked at the IMDB Parents Guide section for each of these shows. Here is a condensed breakdown of what we found:

  • All 5 shows had at least 5 reviews for “moderate” sex and nudity.
  • 3 including Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage had reviews indicating “severe” sex and nudity.
  • 100% of the countries with certifications on IMDB listed these shows as at the very youngest 13+.
  • Additionally, 44% of country certifications listed these shows as 18+.
  • Some of the individual descriptions for these graphic scenes include “hard thrusting” (The Defenders), “in a strip club scene, the camera lingers on women with exposed breasts” (Luke Cage), “bare shoulders and breasts from a view in the shower” (Daredevil), and “a woman is thrusting on top of a man. They moan loudly with movements shown” (Jessica Jones).

Fortunately, Netflix offers parental control options in order to prevent your young superhero fan from seeing this graphic content. Parents could require a PIN to view any programs of a certain rating, such as TV-MA, or set a PIN on specific shows or movies. All of these Marvel shows are rated TV-MA, so either choice will protect your children from seeing these shows. However, there are some downsides to Netflix parental controls. Netflix currently requires PINs to be set on individual profiles. This means that any child with a working knowledge of Netflix could easily switch between profiles to access these shows and other inappropriate content. As a result, without careful supervision, children and teens are still at risk. Learn more about Netflix parental controls here.

Superhero media provides entertainment and enrichment for all ages. However, the original Netflix Marvel series portrays graphic sexual content and storylines that are disturbing for anyone.

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Sommer Porter

Copywriter

Sommer Porter is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University, earning her
bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in International Development. She is
passionate about solving important world issues such as sexual exploitation through
non-profit work and advocacy. She has worked with several non-profits, including
spending three months conducting a program evaluation for an organization based
in Bulgaria. She now works as a copywriter at the National Center on Sexual
Exploitation and hopes to pursue a graduate degree in the future.

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