A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this irreverent, partially improvised sitcom has plenty of adult-skewed humor, including jokes about casual sex and Jesus. Ethnicity and sexual orientation are the basis of some jokes, though the treatment is generally respectful. Some crude language pops up.
What's the story?
In 10 ITEMS OR LESS, John Lehr stars as Leslie Pool, a nerdy thirtysomething who returns home to Ohio to take over his father's grocery store. Though he's been a loser in the business world so far, Pool is confident that he can run the store, even with the stiff competition from the giant Super Value Mart across the street. Pool's optimism is shared by his loyal employees, a motley cast of characters that includes dull-witted grocery clerk Carl (Robert Clendenin), who has a special fondness for the company picnic, and inarticulate-but-studly butcher Todd (Chris Payne Gilbert), who wants to be \"friends with benefits\" with soft-spoken, Renaissance faire-loving customer service rep Ingrid (Kirsten Gronfield). Jennifer Elise Cox is particularly funny as Amy, the Super Value Mart manager who's determined to take Pool down.
Is it any good?
Like the hugely successful British (and now American) series, The Office, 10 Items or Less is only partially scripted. The rest is left up to the largely talented cast. The result can be cleverly funny, like when Pool refers to a note he wrote a girl in high school, saying he signed off with "WBS, write back soon; SSS, sorry so sloppy." But it can also result in some uneven comedy. The fact that the show is filmed in an actual grocery store adds another opportunity for spontaneity in the plot -- some of the real customers appear in the show (a tactic similar to that used by fellow improv sitcom Dog Bites Man, in which a fake news crew interviews real, unsuspecting people).
The humor is mostly adult-oriented, such as one storyline revolving around a one-night-stand between two employees that resulted in a baby. But there's a lot of physical, slapstick humor that will appeal to teens. Some moments are intentionally awkward and might make some viewers uncomfortable. Parents may want to watch with teens or preview an episode to see if it's OK for their kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about improvisation. Can you tell what parts of the show are improvised? What makes improv good or bad? Under what circumstances do you get to exercise your own "improv" skills? Families can also talk about workplace behavior. Why is it important to do a good job at work? (Or, for teens, at school.)
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