Pretty Little Liars: Summer School parents guide: Take your kids to slasher school with the new season on Max

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Pretty Little Liars: Summer School on Max
Pretty Little Liars: Summer School on Max /

Pretty Little Liars has already been through a ton of different iterations and spinoffs. And now Max’s original series Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin has spawned a sequel season… Pretty Little Liars: Summer School. But is this a slasher school you’ll want to enroll your horror-loving teens in?

Picking up with the same cast and crew after the events of Original Sin, our new Little Liars have survived the attack by the monstrous, masked A, only to be thrust into yet another murderous mystery. This time around the killer seems to be Bloody Rose Waters, the similarly masked mother of the first season’s A – who urban legends have it had her face skinned by her son and now walks around in the bloody bandages.

Oh, and because the Liars spent most of Sophomore year evading getting killed by A, they have to attend summer school. Along with that comes summer jobs, summer romances, and of course, lots and lots of summer killing.

The show is created by Riverdale mastermind Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Lindsay Calhoon Bring, and stars Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles, Maia Reficco, and Mallory Bechtel as our little liars. In addition, Annabeth Gish joins the cast this season as Dr. Anne Sullivan, a therapist who used to help the liars on the original Pretty Little Liars TV show.

With that all in mind, let’s discuss the content of this season, based on the five episodes provided for review by critics (two episodes premiered on Max today, with new episodes rolling out weekly thereafter).

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Parents Guide: Explaining The TV-MA Age Rating

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School on Max /

Unlike the thriller of the original series, the Max reboot is much more in line with the Scream series than Pretty Little Liars. Each season is its own oversized slasher film, with all the gore and violence that implies.

Sex & Nudity: There’s non-stop sexual content in the show because these are horny teens – but other than the graphic dialogue, it’s much more chaste than you might expect, more in line with CW sex, and even then, probably a little less so. Most of the sex scenes involve a character taking off their shirt down to the bra, gyrating a little bit, and then the camera cuts or fades to black. In the first season there’s some brief male nudity of the butt variety, but (no pun intended) none of that in the first five episodes of Season 2.

Also important to mention here: in Season 1 (Original Sin) it was revealed that two of the characters were raped. That trauma continues in Season 2 with a number of discussions of various nuances, so just be trigger-warned in advance.

Violence: This is definitely where the show gets its TV-MA rating. In every episode, there’s at least one bloody kill, usually involving someone getting their throat slit. And the Liars are constantly being stalked by A in Season 1, and Bloody Rose Waters in Season 2. That said, this is again even less graphic than the Scream series, let alone, say, an Eli Roth movie. You’ll see blood pouring down and people getting stabbed, but as horror movies go this is a relatively easy one to get through.

Language: Yep, lots of language. They’re teens talking like teens with non-stop f-bombs, and other flowery language. Plus they’re being stalked by a merciless killer, you can forgive them a curse here and there.

Drinking & Drugs: There’s some drinking, and teen drinking at that. Nothing really to excess, but they are known to partake of the devil's brew. That said, most of the drinking involves weirdly old-school cans of soda. In the first season, one of the character’s moms was revealed to be an addict; but she’s off-screen in rehab for at least the first five episodes.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Appropriate For?

If your kids like the Scream movies, they’ll like this. I understand the TV-MA rating because there is a lot of cursing and violence. But at its heart, this is a teen drama and if you have a kid 13, 14, or older who is starting to get into horror, this is pretty much perfect for them.

You may want to be on hand to discuss some of the trickier subjects, particularly when it comes to sexual assault. But overall if your teen hates blood, stay away; if they can keep up with Tabby’s non-stop movie references and know their Wes Craven from their George Romero? This will 100% be their jam.

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