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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All Night is about graduating teens who spend one fortuitous night together at a 12-hour lock-in party. Teens plot, scheme, and then actually do drink alcohol. First they try a variety of novel methods to sneak it into the party (only some are successful, but it's enough to have many acting silly and sloppy). One girl sells plastic bags of vodka in hollowed-out yearbooks. A boy jokes about taking "boner pills" while waving a bag of blue tablets. Teens talk a lot about sex, but only kissing (both same- and opposite-sex) is shown. A character who's said to be a teen (though the actress who plays her is in her 20s) appears in a lacy bra and underwear. Teens talk about consent and not being "creepy" in their sexual behavior. Language includes "hell," "sucks," "crap," "d--k," "bang," "shart." The cast is diverse, and characters learn from their mistakes and grow over the course of the series.
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What's the story?
The graduation ceremony was a real bore, but at least the Class of 2018 has an ALL NIGHT party to look forward to. A lot can happen when you're locked in the local rec center with no phone, no booze -- or at least the school administrators would like to think -- and very few adults around to put the hammer down on any fun. Lots of the graduates have big plans: Roni (Brec Bassinger) wants to get physical with her reluctant boyfriend Oz (Austin North); Deanna (Jenn McAllister) is going to gather her courage and tell Fig (Jake Short) her true feelings; Cassie (Tetona Jackson) wants her closeted girlfriend to finally come out to their friends. But not much can happen in just one night -- right?
Is it any good?
The stranded-together-just-for-one-night setup is a teen-comedy classic (some would say cliché), and this likeable series makes it work thanks to its underlying sweetness. Viewers will at first fear that every character in All Night is a "type:" the hot popular girl, the not-as-hot-or-popular guy who's hoping she'll be his by night's end, the jocks, the nerds, the wanna-bes. With a cast this large, it can be difficult to sensitively sketch realistic characters and instead default to stereotypes -- and yes, there are some stereotypes on display here, like the way the nerd group intends to celebrate graduation with a single-sex game of cards in a basement. But there are plenty of trope-busting moments too, like when the school bad boy brags he wants to "bang the prom queen -- with her consent, of course," and when the agreed-upon prize in a bro-down game of pool is a $50 donation to the Sierra Club.
Creator Jason Ubaldi, who's also behind YouTube Red high school-set series Youth & Consequences, is making something that's both more thoughtful and more modern than a Sixteen Candles, or a Can't Hardly Wait, despite the similarity in theme. These teens -- they're supposed to be teens, anyway, though all the actors portraying them are in their 20s -- are looking for something deeper than casual sex or getting wasted (though most want both of those things too). In the first episode, Christian quotes Melinda's valedictorian speech to her ironically. "You listened to my graduation speech?" says Melinda, school loner. "Yeah," says confident Christian. "It was great." The smile she rewards him with is exactly how we feel, and more than enough reason to try this show on for size.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about All Night's setting. Why is it common to set a movie or a show at a party? What dramatic or comedic possibilities does this setting offer? Is it difficult to make a common setting seem interesting and fresh?
Discuss the use of stereotypes in All Night. What characters or situations have you seen before? Which are realistic and which seem hackneyed and stale? Does this show ever upend your expectations?
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