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 Woman is the story of a woman who leaves her wealthy husband after she discovers him cheating. Set in the mid-1970's, the show follows main character Bonnie and her friends as they each attempt to break free from the men in their life and discover their own independence. Most episodes tend to contain sex scenes, along with some mild nudity. There's a lot of profanity, including "s--t" and "f--k," and Bonnie makes frequent threats to others. Smoking, alcohol and drug use are rampant, and characters often deal with their problems via alcohol and drugs. Though the show claims to be set during "the second wave of feminism," it deals mostly in clichés and stereotypes, making this a less-than-great choice for families looking for strong female role models.
What's the story?
In 1975, former child actress and AMERICAN WOMAN Bonnie Nolan (Alicia Silverstone) discovers that her husband, a wealthy real-estate salesman, is cheating on her, so she decides to leave him. In order to keep her giant house and raise her two daughters as a single mother, Bonnie must learn to become financially stable on her own. At the same time, her two best friends, Kathleen (Mena Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels) are also testing the limits of their own independence: Kathleen is using her own money to fund her secretly homosexual boyfriend's casting company, while Diana fights to climb the corporate ladder at a male-run bank.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, this potentially fun story is a patchwork of cliches, and -- beyond the over-the-top and distracting costumes that place the show in 1975 -- the writing doesn't really attempt to put a new spin on them. The characters, though they're supposed to be emblematic of the second wave of feminism, are drawn from broad stereotypes. They're timid, spiteful, easily manipulated, classist, and use alcohol to avoid their problems, which works for other, more confident shows (Desperate Housewives, anyone?) but here completely contradicts and undermines American Woman's promise of a story about women discovering their independence.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the lives of women are portrayed in this period piece. What's different for women now? Do they have more choices?
Why do you think they chose to set American Woman in the 1970s? What does the show say about that time in American history? How would life be different for its characters in the present day? What can we learn from this depiction of the past?