By now, many of us have heard that we still have to wait until May to finally watch the next season of “Stranger Things,” ending its nearly three-year hiatus after the release of season three. It seems Disney+ got tired of waiting and decided to come out with its own version of the show. “Parallels” was released on the platform on March 23, and features four French teenagers who become wrapped up in a science-fiction multiverse.
The show begins by depicting the four protagonists, Sam, Victor, Ramone and Bilal, as they are finishing eighth grade and about to enter high school. Late at night on Bilal’s birthday, the group decides to head to a secret bunker in the woods, their favorite hangout spot bedecked with lights, decorations, furniture and food. As is to be expected with meetings late at night in mysterious bunkers, things take a turn for the worse when the electricity briefly sputters out, causing Ramone and Victor to vanish from the room and Bilal to age 20 years. It is later revealed that Ramone and Victor are in some other world, thinking Sam and Bilal are the ones to disappear without explanation. Chaos ensues as Sam, the only one left completely unchanged by the eerie event, panics over the disappearance of his friends.
“Parallels” is much like a typical science fiction show: scientists working on a generator of some sort, the generator malfunctioning, said generator causing a shift in the multiverse, etc. The show certainly isn’t revolutionary and doesn’t bring much new material to the genre, but it does play the part of a sci-fi show well. At the very least, the characters are likable, and seeing the perspective of two alternate realities is truly engaging.
After watching so many teen dramas, one of the most refreshing parts of the series was the casting itself. Unlike the supposed “teens” in shows like “Euphoria” and “Riverdale,” the actors looked like they could still be in high school, making the show feel both more realistic and relatable. Considering I only graduated from high school last year, having the actors at least look as though they were around my age as opposed to clearly much older made their interactions and behavior more enjoyable to watch. No, you won’t get the entertainment from the absurd scandal undeniably found in every teen drama, but there are already enough shows doing that. Perhaps that has something to do with it being a Disney show (after all, the same can be said about “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”). The show is definitely geared toward younger teens, but what’s wrong with that?
If you’re looking for a truly groundbreaking show, “Parallels” is not it, but it still holds up well in the realm of teenage sci-fi. And no, it’s not as intense as “Stranger Things,” nor does it have quite the level of camaraderie between the characters you’ve come to know and love, but if you need that supernatural, multidimensional fix and don’t mind a show a little lighter than your typical teen drama, “Parallels” fits the bill.
Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at email@example.com.