Netflix's latest teen-fronted horror series is chilling in more ways than one. The Midnight Club arrived on the streamer on Oct. 7, just in time for Halloween, and thanks to its young cast of newcomers, the show is likely already on your teen's radar. As a result, you're probably wondering if it’s something you should let your teen or tween watch — but, unfortunately, the answer isn't that straightforward with this show.
Created by Mike Flanagan and based on the 1994 Christopher Pike YA novel of the same name, The Midnight Club is in the vein of Flanagan's previous Netflix horror series: The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass. As is the norm with the horror maestro's shows, there are plenty of creepy moments designed to live in your nightmares forever. With The Midnight Club, though, there's also an overwhelming sense of existential dread since each one of the show's teens is terminally ill. The Midnight Club is set in a hospice for young adults, which means that even as the characters worry about the supernatural events going on around them, they're also facing their own mortality.
It's heady stuff that likely isn't appropriate for even the bravest of tweens. Teens are another story. Despite its dark subject matter, the series is based on a YA novel and does feel like a teen show. Whether or not your teen should watch depends not only on their scare level but also on how comfortable you are with them watching a show that is quite mature in the way it deals with topics like death, self-harm, and suicide.
Read on for everything you need to know before your teen watches The Midnight Club.
What's The Midnight Club about?
Slight spoilers ahead!
The series, which is set in 1994, begins with the college-bound Ilonka (Iman Benson) discovering she has terminal cancer. After researching Brightcliffe Hospice, a place for terminally ill teens, she discovers a story about a resident who mysteriously disappeared only to return in complete remission. Knowing conventional medicine can offer her no hope, Ilonka decides to move into Brightcliffe to research the case herself.
Once there, she meets a group of terminally ill teens like herself, who meet each night at midnight to tell each other scary stories. They're part of a long line of teens who have taken part in The Midnight Club — and they've all made a promise that whichever one of them dies first will attempt to make contact with the others from the beyond. Once the inevitable happens, things get weird fast as unexplainable and downright terrifying events begin to plague the hospice.
What is The Midnight Club's rating?
Netflix rating: TV-MA
Netflix has rated The Midnight Club TV-MA, which means the series is for mature audiences. (By contrast, Stranger Things is rated TV-14.) The show’s rating is due to depictions of self-harm, suicide, graphic violence, and strong language. Some of the content takes place within the stories the teens tell one another. For example, the second episode, “The Two Danas,” includes a scary story that involves a character violently stabbing herself to hurt her doppelganger.
If you’re concerned that the darker scenes could be triggering for your teen, then this show might be one you want to skip. However, if your teen regularly watches horror shows like The Haunting of Hill House, then they should be able to handle The Midnight Club.
So, should my teen watch The Midnight Club?
Despite being a scary show that tackles difficult subject matter, this is a series that centers teenagers and their voices in a compelling way. From fears about the future to the importance of building strong friendships, this is a YA series — it’s just a mature one.
Given the disturbing nature of some of the show’s scarier scenes and the heavy subject matter, it’s not a good fit for the under-14 crowd. But if your teen is curious about the show and you discuss the trigger warnings with them beforehand, this could be a terrific show for co-viewing. Yes, it’s scary, but the way it takes on tricky topics surrounding grief and illness makes it a unique series for teens and adults alike.
Ultimately, you know your teen the best. If they scare easily, you should warn them that this show isn’t as playful as Stranger Things, despite being packed with a talented cast of young adults. It’s a much darker series, and it’s one that could be triggering due to its subject matter. However, it’s also worthwhile and entertaining for horror fans who don’t scare easily.