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 9JKL is a sitcom inspired by star Mark Feuerstein's experiences living in close proximity to his parents as an adult. The premise is that a divorced actor settles into an apartment with his parents in one neighboring unit and his brother and sister-in-law in the other. There are many references to sex throughout the show, having fun with its role in the life of a young married couple, an older couple, and a newly single young man. Expect to hear references to "balls," condoms, casual sex, one-night stands, and the like, and to see kissing and some mild foreplay between adults. There are some sweet moments between family members and some reminders of the rewards of closeness, but on the whole, the suggestion is that there's value in setting boundaries and maintaining distance instead.
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What's the story?
In 9JKL, actor Josh Roberts (Mark Feuerstein), recently divorced and unemployed after the cancellation of his show, moves back to New York and into an apartment that's smack dab in between his parents (Elliott Gould and Linda Lavin) and his brother (Andrew Walton), sister-in-law (Liza Lapira), and newborn baby. Going from married life and geographical distance from family to living in such close proximity to them isn't an easy adjustment, and it's doubly hard when you have the kind of parent who pays the doorman to keep her abreast of your comings and goings. But even with family as intrusive as his, Josh discovers the rewards of renewing his relationships with them.
Is it any good?
This series falls far short of where it could be, given its cast, by relying on trite comedy that loses luster after the first 10 minutes or so. The parents' well-meaning attention to their newly returned -- and conveniently needy, after a divorce settlement wiped out his resources -- son devolves into full-blown suffocation in record time. Ultimately, 9JKL's audience will sympathize with Josh's impulse to run and hide every time his parents make an appearance.
One result of 9JKL's lackluster writing is that much of the humor comes from jokes related to sex. Between Josh's lack of it (he's been in a dry spell since his divorce) and his aging parents' renewed vigor for it (Dad had "man" surgery that's helped in that regard), there's a lot of talk about who's getting some and who's not. It's a tired plot that doesn't help this show's case one bit, even if it does generate some short-lived laughs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how 9JKL presents sexuality. Is it weird to talk about sex with your family? Why or why not? Does Josh's family cross a line?
How do our relationships with family change as we get older? Why is open communication important in keeping those relationships strong?
How does comedy reflect issues relevant to our society? On the other hand, why is it a good escape from our problems and everyday lives?
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