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 American Housewife is a comedy series that leans heavily on jokes about body size and body image for laughs. The main character is an overweight stay-at-home mom who laments the fact that she sticks out among her much more slender female peers, and she spends much of her time dwelling on that. At the same time, she judges those same women for their size and their perceived socioeconomic superiority, so the stereotyping goes both ways. Expect some language ("damn," "hell," "ass," and "bitch") and sexual content, including mild bedroom activity between married partners.
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What's the story?
AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE opens with Katie Otto (Katy Mixon) bemoaning the departure of her neighbor, "Fat Pam," which leaves her, as she says, "the second-fattest housewife" in Westport, Connecticut. Surrounded by seemingly perfect neighbors with huge bank accounts and tiny figures, Katie and her husband, Greg (Diedrich Bader), rent a modest home in the town for the benefits of the excellent school district. Their kids -- Taylor (Meg Donnelly), Oliver (Daniel DiMaggio), and Anna-Kat (Julia Butters) -- all have their idiosyncrasies, but Katie's determined to raise them well, despite the whitewashed influence of Westport's "perfect" residents.
Is it any good?
Body image takes center stage in this one-trick-pony comedy series, and the mixed messages that emerge are concerning for tweens and teens. It's easy to like Katie's self-confidence and willingness to accept who (and how big) she is, but she does herself and her viewers no favors by turning the kind of superficial criticism on everyone around her that she claims comes her way from them. Stereotyping is stereotyping, regardless of which direction the needle tilts, and it sends all kinds of worrisome messages about self-esteem by putting this issue at the forefront of this show.
In contrast, American Housewife presents a decent image of a cohesive family facing some issues that will resonate with viewers. The Ottos aren't perfect, but they are a family, and Katie and Greg would do anything for their kids. Ultimately your stance on this show depends on your own life experience. If you can relate to Katie's woes regarding her neighbors' standards, then you'll find some laughs at her expense.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how American Housewife addresses body image. Teens: Do you think much about how you look? What outside influences cause you to do more of that? Does the media present realistic examples of how we should look?
Is there such a thing as a "normal" life experience? To what degree are we shaped by our surroundings? How do your experiences compare with those of your friends?
What do you think of how this show deals with weight and body image? Is it trying to send a message of some kind, or is it just out for laughs? When does comedy cross a line into offense?
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