Following the Texas school shooting, Netflix has added a content warning to the Stranger Things season 4 premiere
Netflix has issued a content warning due to the general but chilling similarities between the opening scenes of Stranger Things 4 and the recent mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The new season begins 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 killed two teachers and 19 students. Netflix had previously uploaded the scenes in question to YouTube as a teaser in the days leading up to Stranger Things season 4 premiere, but the video has since been removed. Netflix’s content warning, shown below, appears when you play the season 4 premiere, and it appears that the message appears only the first time you press play.
Though Stranger Things 4 is primarily set in 1986, the season’s premiere — “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club” — takes place a few years earlier, when Hawkins National Laboratories was still in operation and conducting experiments on Eleven and other children with enhanced abilities. The Hawkins lab is framed as both a prison and a learning environment for Eleven and her peers in “The Hellfire Club,” and the episode details how their time there culminated in a horrific attack that killed the majority of the children and staff. The Hawkins lab massacre, both in and out of the larger context revealed as the rest of Stranger Things’ latest season unfolds, 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’s worth noting that the Obi-Wan Kenobi series premiere also begins with a scene of children being murdered in a school setting — a snapshot of one of the more pivotal moments in Star Wars history. A content warning has since been added by Disney, but it appears on the show’s Details page rather than at the beginning of the episode. According to reports, the initial warning stated, “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 “Some scenes in this fictional series may be upsetting to some viewers.”
Stranger Things 4 and Obi-Wan Kenobi leading with gruesome school killings could be entirely coincidental. But, in light of what happened in Uvalde, it’s difficult not to see both shows as tapping into something profoundly broken about the country in which they’re produced — all during one of the most difficult times imaginable.