‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’: What Age Is the Disney+ Series For?

You can feel pretty safe knowing that any show on Disney+ won’t run the risk of being R-rated like a Netflix or Amazon show could. Still, there are degrees between The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers and the Marvel shows. The new Disney+ series The Mysterious Benedict Society is based on the books by Trenton Lee Stewart, so how young a kid could watch the show?

Disney+ series The Mysterious Benedict Society cast gathers at Mr. Benedict's Institute
L-R: Ryan Hurst, Emmy Deoliveira, Mystic Inscho, Seth Carr and Marta Timofeeva | Diyah Pera/Disney

Mysterious Benedict Society writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the new show. We’ll have a lot more with them this month, but first they discussed what ages could watch the show. Good info to have before The Mysterious Benedict Society premieres June 25.

‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’ writers want all kids to watch

Stewart’s books are intended for young readers. Common Sense Media estimated them at a sixth grade reading level, while Fatherly suggested 9. Manfredi has a nine and 12-year-old and Hay has a 14-year-old, but both intended the show for all ages. 

“Phil has said before, the way our kids watch shows is they kind of want to watch up a little bit as opposed to watch down,” Manfredi said. “They want to watch what their older brother or sister is watching. So I think and then so it’s definitely got something for kids but I think in terms of there’s something there for everybody. Especially with Tony Hale and Kristen Schaal and hopefully we bring a level of the show has a level of sophistication that appeals to everybody.”

‘The Mysterious Benedict Socciety’ has jokes for grown-ups

The series is about group of orphans recruited by Mr. Benedict (Tony Hale) to help him solve a crisis called The Emergency. Kristen Schaal plays Benedict’s Number Two. Hay believes adults can still enjoy the show’s whimsical tone.

Mysterious Benedict Society: Kristen Schaal as Number Two
Kristen Schaal | Diyah Pera/Disney

In a way we never think about writing for kids even though kids are a really important part of this audience. I think a stated hope of the show is that families would watch it together. I can say as someone with a family, those kind of shows are so amazing when you find them. So we hope to be like that, and I think exactly as Matt said with Kristen and Tony and our other actors, just a sound sensibility that we and the creative team bring to it, my hope is that people who are any age that don’t have kids are interested in it the way they might be interested in a Wes Anderson movie or the way they might be interested in watching Goonies as an adult. There’s something that is appealing to an adult about this story.

Phil Hay, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 6/8/21

So how young is too young? 

Hay and Manfredi are also confident that no age is two young to watch The Mysterious Benedict Society. If they’re old enough to pay attention for hour-long episodes, there’s nothing objectionable in their show. 

I think there are very sophisticated things in it that will go right over the heads of kids that are that young. We don’t try to be scary. We don’t try to be disorienting for a younger kid. I don’t know if a really young kid will follow it per se, but we’ll put it this way. There’s nothing that I would be nervous about showing to a kid in the show and that’s kind of the jot and the challenge of it. Our goal is to be as funny as anything you’re going to see but it’s still totally viewable by kids and families. Tony and Kristen are great secret weapons for that because their style of humor which we then start to really write to, and that we use our sense of humor, is very absurd and strange.

Phil Hay, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 6/8/21
Mysterious Benedict Society: Mr. Benedict reads a book outside a tent
Tony Hale | Diyah Pera/Disney

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There is danger to the Mysterious Benedict Scoiety. Otherwise, there would be no drama. Manfredi assured parents that nobody would get seriously hurt on the show. 

“When we’re discussing the tone of the show, because there are chases and there’s danger, we always said there might be a literal cliffhanger,” Manfredi said. “That’s the level that we might do. No one’s using a limb but I think it’s exciting and fun.”

Sources: Common Sense Media, Fatherly