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Netflix adds content warning to Stranger Things season 4 premiere after Texas school shooting

Netflix adds content warning to Stranger Things season 4 premiere after Texas school shooting


‘Chapter One: The Hellfire Club’ now comes with a warning

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Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven.
Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven.

Due to the general but chilling similarities the opening scenes of Stranger Things 4 bear to the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Netflix has issued a content warning.

In addition to a recap of Stranger Things’ previous chapters, the new season starts with a short message explaining that while production on Stranger Things 4 wrapped in 2021, viewers may be disturbed by the parallels between scenes from the first episode and the real world Texas school shooting that left two teachers and 19 school children dead. In the days leading up to Stranger Things’ season 4 premiere, Netflix had previously uploaded the scenes in question to YouTube as a teaser, but the video has since been pulled down. Netflix’s content warning, pictured below, pops up when you play the season 4 premiere, and it seems that the message only appears the very first time to press play.

Though Stranger Things 4 is mostly set in 1986, the season’s premiere — “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club” — opens a few years earlier, back when Hawkins National Laboratories were still up and running experiments on Eleven and other children with enhanced abilities. “The Hellfire Club” frames the Hawkins lab as both a prison and a schooling environment for Eleven and her peers, and the episode details how their time there culminated in a horrific attack that left most of the children and staff dead. Both in and out of the larger context that’s revealed as the rest of Stranger Things’ latest season unfolds, the Hawkins lab massacre plays very much like the show’s take on a school shooting due to its focus on helpless children losing their lives in classrooms.

It feels important to point out that the series premiere of Obi-Wan Kenobi also opens on a scene of children being murdered in a school setting — a snapshot of one of the more significant moments in Star Wars’ history. Disney has since added a content warning, but it appears on the show’s Details page, rather than at the start of the episode itself. According to Variety, the warning initially read “Although this fictional series is a continuation of the story from Star Wars movies filmed many years ago, some scenes may be upsetting to viewers in light of the recent tragic events.” It has since been shortened to “There are certain scenes in this fictional series that some viewers may find upsetting.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Stranger Things 4 leading with gruesome school killings may be wholly coincidental. But in the wake of what happened in Uvalde, it’s hard not to see both shows as having tapped into something profoundly broken about the country they’re produced in — all at one of the most difficult times imaginable.

Update May 28th, 9:24AM ET: Updated to add information surrounding Disney Plus’ content warning for Obi-Wan Kenobi.