Heads Up, Parents: Netflix's Teenage Bounty Hunters Has a TV-MA Rating For a Reason
Netflix’s new show Teenage Bounty Hunters is a high-octane thriller dramedy that features two strong-willed, empowered, religious teenagers who literally kick butt . . . but the show is anything but teenage. Set against the backdrop of a conservative town in Atlanta, GA, it starts with twins Sterling and Blair crashing their dad’s car, and in order to earn money to repair it, becoming part-time bounty hunters for their mentor Bowser.
They land in some dicey situations along the way, and similarly to other Netflix shows like Sex Education, Teenage Bounty Hunters skews towards older adolescents as it explores adult themes not suitable for younger kids. Whether or not it gets renewed for a second season remains to be seen, but in the meantime, we highlighted six things parents should note before deciding to watch this show with their family.
- The show lives up to its T-MA rating.
The first episode starts with Sterling and her longtime boyfriend Luke making out in a car before losing their virginity to each other, while her twin sister Blair gets intimate with her own boyfriend in another car. The sexy scenes are explicit and the conversations around them even more so. There are several scenes of underage drinking, reckless driving, and sneaking off to a strip club. Sterling and Blair’s unconventional side hustle forces them to grow up quickly, exposes them to unsavory characters, and shines a new light on their town, their loved ones, and themselves that often sends them spinning into existential crises.
- There are strong religious themes that overlap with the girls’ exploration of their sexualities.
Sterling and Blair live in a religious town and come from a strict Christian family who attends church regularly. Despite the conservative nature of their surroundings, they are sexually curious people who think about and engage in pre-marital sex. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, creator Kathleen Jordan said, “Obviously sexuality and religion are not mutually exclusive. Most American teenagers are religious, and most American teenagers are sexual and have sex lives. So we wanted to reconcile that.”
Sterling and Blair’s faith enhance and inform their experiences, and they are determined to keep an open mind about how to interpret the Bible. Sterling especially loves being a Christian as much as she loves exploring her pleasure, and debates the Biblical interpretation on same-sex relationships to gauge another girl’s interest in her.
- It explores social justice issues.
Teenage Bounty Hunters uses its affluent and predominantly white setting to explore issues surrounding race, class, and culture. For example, Sterling and Blair use their own privilege to mete out justice in the town; Bowser is racially profiled because he’s Black; Blair realizes her privilege when she makes assumptions about her boyfriend’s background and her mother makes well-intentioned but ignorant comments about dating a Black boy. This sense of ignorance is compounded by the town’s furious reactions to the decapitations of Confederate statues early in the season. Bowser and the sisters try to catch the perpetrator because it’s their job, but Blair challenges her town’s willingness to preserve Confederate history and in front of her conservative grandparents, much to their disappointment. And even though they’re forced to surrender the perpetrator to law enforcement, they let them behead one more statue in quiet solidarity.
- There’s lots of action-packed violence – and discussion about guns.
Bowser, Blair, and Sterling are not afraid to wield guns and openly fire at perps. While the scenes aren’t graphic, there are loud sounds of gunshots that may catch younger viewers off guard. Guns are also a complicated topic in this show, as most if not all of the characters know how to use them. Blair is clear when she reluctantly goes hunting with her dad that she supports the right to bear arms, but is critical of the NRA and the use of assault rifles. Seeing the casual use of guns may confuse kids, and they may have a hard time understanding the implications of two teens learning to use guns like pros before they’re fo legal age. Taking the debate a step further, the show also explores the inherent sexism in pop culture portrayals of gun ownership and use. Kathleen Jordan weighed in on this conversation and told Refinery29, “While we knew it was a choice to have guns in the show, we feel like a show starring boys probably wouldn’t get pushed back on [that subject]. We see guys firing guns in every single show and no one really raises an eyebrow. It’s also kind of an allegory for their badassness.”
- Social media is a vital part of the show.
The teens in the show use TikTok and Instagram as teens would, and Blair’s drunk Instagram stories get her in trouble with her mom. However, the girls also use such platforms to bounty hunt. They take advantage of cyber sleuthing to track down bail skippers who’ve managed to hide out. In one case, Sterling creates a fake account to send the perp a friend request so they can access his profile and track his location – which could spark a conversation about the dangers of social media with kids.
- Most of the characters in the show are forced to keep secrets and lie.
Due to the nature of their side hustle, Sterling and Blair are forced to pretend they have jobs at an ice cream parlor. In fact, there’s a scene where they talk about how they have to start coming up with alibis since they’re teens who still live under their parents’ roof. In addition to covering up their bounty hunting, Sterling and Blair spread false rumors around school to protect themselves. Perhaps the biggest mystery of the show revolves around their mother, which leads the twins to suspect their parents are keeping secrets, too. This web of lies and lack of transparency puts a strain on their relationships. Not only could this plot confuse younger viewers, but they may find it unsettling that everyone on the show is not who they appear to be.