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 '90s sitcom looks at life on earth from a unique point of view. There's a bit of racy content -- expect some sexual innuendo (most of which will go over the head of younger viewers), some hugging and kissing, and, in later episodes, images of men and women in bed together -- but overall it's on the tamer side. The show's slapstick brand of humor incorporates some slapping and hitting (like repeatedly banging someone's head with a frying pan for laughs), and there's some mild language ("damn," "hell") and drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN, which originally aired from 1996-2001, is an award-winning slapstick comedy about a group of aliens exploring life on Earth. John Lithgow stars as the mission's high commander, who lives among humans as physics professor Dr. Dick Solomon. Posing as his sister, Sally, Kristen Johnston plays his first officer in charge of security, while his intelligence officer pretends to be his teenage son, Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The team's quirky communications officer poses as Harry (French Stewart), Dick and Sally's rather dimwitted brother. Although mystified by things ranging from gender differences to leaving tips at restaurants, the Solomons must find a way to blend in among humans. But their rather quirky behavior consistently raises the eyebrows of folks like landlady Mrs. Dubcek (Elmarie Wendel) and makes some of Dick's university colleagues -- including anthropologist Mary Albright (Jane Curtin) and administrative assistant Nina Campbell (Simbi Khali) -- absolutely crazy.
Is it any good?
Intelligently written and well acted, 3rd Rock generates lots of laughs as viewers look at humanity through the aliens' unique point of view. Much of the humor comes from each character's specific (mis)understandings of how people see themselves and build relationships with one another. But while the space invaders' interpretation of human logic is often flawed, their way of thinking tends to highlight many of today's social ironies.
The show has plenty of silly moments, but it really isn't intended for younger kids, given all of the sophisticated social commentary that lies behind the slapstick. Younger viewers may not get it, but teens and adults will find things to both laugh and think about for years to come.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different ways that TV shows can offer social commentary. Do all sitcoms offer some sort of social insights? Which ones are particularly known for offering that kind of message? Are the messages as obvious when they're mixed in with broad humor? Families can also discuss what it would be like for aliens to adjust to life on Earth. How do you think they would view the things you do every day? What do we take for granted that might confuse beings from other planets (or even other cultures)?