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American Body Shop
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 mock reality show makes fun of people based on disability, ethnicity, gender, race, and age. Jokes are both crass and (sometimes) funny, with a tendency toward pratfall and bathroom humor. (For example, in one scene, the characters describe how the victim of a terrible chemical spill had to have skin from his bottom grafted onto his face, resulting in his nickname: "assface.") The characters all behave unethically, from stealing to bribing to ambulance chasing. Jokes at the expense of the shop's Spanish-speaking immigrant employee are ongoing, though mature viewers will understand the political satire inherent in the comedy. The strongest words are bleeped, but "ass" and others get through.
What's the story?
If you've had enough of formulaic, car-oriented reality shows, then you'll probably like AMERICAN BODY SHOP -- a funny parody of the many reality series set in garages. Desert Body & Custom is an auto body and detailing shop run by dysfunctional incompetents. Sam (Peter Hulne), the boss, is in over his head -- he's constantly thwarted in his attempts to run a successful business by both his employees and his own questionable ethics. Working with Sam are folks like Rob (Nick Offerman), a strange technician with a propensity for over-the-top solutions to small problems. Rob likes to tie Peruvian immigrant Luis (Frank Merino) to the bottom of vehicles to check for problems, even though he continually falls off. Luis is also the target of Brooklyn Johnnie's (John DiResta) racist epithets; the rest of the crew is equally messed up.
Is it any good?
Jokes consistently aim to push the envelope, with race, disability, and gender all targets of outrageous humor. Expect impressions of disabled folks, phrases like "towel-head," and exhortations to "speak American," as well as a detailed explanation of "re-hymenization." What makes these iffy jokes easier to laugh at is the fact that the characters are all such obvious fools.
American Body Shop falls into an uncomfortable middle ground: It's not really a good fit content-wise for younger viewers -- they might have difficulty making the distinction between parody and prejudice. And adult watchers whose sensibilities tend away from pratfall and bathroom humor might not find it all that appealing, either. That said, there are occasional gems amid the murky comedy for those willing to endure the rest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's brand of humor. What's the difference between funny and offensive? Is there anything in the show that crosses the line? Who determines where "the line" is and when it's crossed in the first place? What is the show making fun of? Do you think anyone would mistake it for a true reality show?