About a Boy



Sweet non-traditional friendships meet iffy sexual messages.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The characters on the show are well-meaning and often there for each other when the chips are down; nonetheless, adults engage in questionable behavior and aren't always responsible, which is played for laughs. Also, there's lots of sexism in the way the main character is dishonest with women to get them into bed and how he brings the kid into his schemes.

Positive role models

Adults are present and enjoy spending time with children, but iffy messages about sex, drinking, and morality muddy the waters.


Marcus is occasionally threatened by bullies; there is light menace.


Two out of three of the main adult characters are single and looking; Will in particular seems to have inordinate luck with ladies who enjoy lounging around his house in lingerie. There are sexual jokes, jokes about body parts, and references to sex and "getting laid," and Will seems to inhabit a world in which there are scantily clad nubile young women wherever he goes.


Some four-letter words such as "hell" and "damn," as well as salty language such as "that sucks" and calling a man a "puss."


Real celebrities such as Lil Jon are mentioned and guest star.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink wine and beer on-screen and make references to being drunk. Will takes 11-year-old Marcus to a party where guests are swilling cocktails and Marcus has a drink that looks like juice but has an umbrella in it just like the cocktails do.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that About a Boy is a comedy about a devil-may-care playboy who forms a relationship with his 11-year-old next-door neighbor and his single mom (it's based on the same-named movie). The bonds of family and friendship are front-and-center here, and the comedy is rather sweet. However, characters drink frequently on-screen and act drunk and silly. Main character Will seems to live in a world strewn with women in micro-miniskirts and willing young ladies who buy his lines and are willing to come home with him and romp around in bed or out in lingerie. There they may get caught by 11-year-old Marcus, who says, "Cool, a bra." Parents beware.

What's the story?

Based on the same Nick Hornby novel that also produced the well-regarded 2002 film also named About a Boy, this half-hour sitcom centers on Will Freeman (David Walton), a has-been rock star who made enough money from one Christmas song that ever since he's been able to coast, get pedicures, and careen from one woman to the next. His louche world is upended when Fiona (Minnie Driver), a freewheeling single mom, and her oddball 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), move next door. Their houses, it turns out, are connected by an old dumbwaiter. So though boozy, randy Will doesn't exactly intend to become friends with a pale, nerdy sixth grader and his meditating, vegan scold of a mother, he does, landing him in a brand-new world of complications.

Is it any good?


Though ABOUT A BOY is a retread on the very popular movie, it still has a freshness about it: Intergenerational friendships are rare on television and so make for a ripe premise. Indeed, the warm connection between Will and Marcus is very sweet. Walton and Stockham are no Hugh Grant and Nicholas Hoult, but they're charming enough, and it's nice to see kids and adults relating to each other in a genuine, affectionate way.

All the sex stuff, however, may appall parents, particularly those of young kids. It isn't just that Will is a rake, it's that the women he "dates" are treated so disrespectfully, both by Will and by the show. They don't seem like people but like plot devices in black bras and underwear. One conquest listens to Will spin a yarn about curing his imaginary son of leukemia with voodoo, her eyes widening sympathetically. A few scenes later she comes to Will's house for a booty call, promising him sex while her two daughters play with his "son." Ugh. Meanwhile, everywhere Will goes, twentysomething girls with very short skirts seem to flock. The fact that Will drags Marcus along on his adventures makes the gratuitous female flesh all the more cringe-inducing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Will's character is realistic. Have you ever known a man who seems to have as many women interested in him as Will? Are we supposed to relate to the women Will dates? Or to Will himself? How can you tell?

  • Who on-screen is the audience supposed to like best? Who gets the best lines? The most flattering camera angles?

  • Compare About a Boy to the other shows executive producer Jason Katims worked on: Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. How are these shows different? How are they similar? Each of those was a movie before it was a show. Compare the movie and television versions.

TV details

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old April 13, 2014

Great Show

It is a very good and funny show. But, at times it can be a bit inapropriote.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byJohnBrade May 25, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Written byAnonymous May 25, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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