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 the main characters of this popular '90s British sitcom never met a drink, cigarette, or drug they didn't like. From double-fisting mixed drinks to popping unidentified pills like candy, these women personify addiction, and their perpetual drunken/stoned state lays the foundation for the most of the show's laughs. Strong language is also fair game ("ass," "bitch," and "s--t" are common fare), as are sexual references and slang anatomical terms like "t-ts." The main characters are selfish, irresponsible, and judgmental toward strangers and family members alike. In other words, nothing about this show is age-appropriate for kids -- but adults and mature teens who can contextualize the ladies' bad behavior and grasp the humor in it will appreciate the series' racy comedy.
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What's the story?
British sitcom ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (or "Ab Fab," as it's often called) centers on the substance-ridden, self-absorbed existence of Eddy Monsoon (played by the show's writer, Jennifer Saunders) and her best pal, Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley). The chums bond over their shared irresponsibility, fad obsession, and multiple addictions -- much to the dismay of Eddy's sensible daughter, Saffron (Julia Sawalha), who does her best to shake her maternal demons and lead an upstanding life. With the constant comings and goings of a variety of family and friends -- including Eddy's two ex-husbands, her wacky employee Bubble (Jane Horrocks), and her increasingly senile mother (June Whitfield) -- life is never dull (or sober, for that matter) in the Monsoon manor.
Is it any good?
Britcom fans have long embraced the outrageous character comedy that makes Ab Fab, well, fabulous. Lumley and Saunders are so exceptional in their roles that their characters' staggering drunkenness, laziness, and general apathy almost pass as endearing qualities. The blatant character contradiction between Eddy and Saffron lays the foundation for the show's cast of over-the-top characters, each apparently existing to upstage the next with improbable eccentricity. Hilarious in jokes and off-the-wall observations on life from the two opinionated, amoral main characters top off this riotous show.
That said, the characters' excessive bad behavior ensures that it's not meant for tweens or impressionable teens. Precious little of the show's content could be construed realistic -- especially Eddy and Patsy's pampered, unfettered lives -- so there's nothing here for kids to relate to anyway. Plus, the show's comedic take on substance abuse obviously sends a poor message to youngsters, and the total dysfunction within the disjointed family unit isn't any better. Bottom line? Funny, yes, but not for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages kids receive about drugs and alcohol. Have you ever seen a show or movie that makes drinking, smoking, or drug use seem socially acceptable? How was the behavior addressed in the story? Did the character face any consequences for his or her actions? How realistic was the scenario? How are kids affected by what they see in the media, even if it's just in passing? How does the media (and other forms of peer pressure) affect your impression of what's right and wrong?