Andy Barker, P.I.

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Andy Barker, P.I. TV Poster Image
Accidental detective has lucky knack for the job.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Stereotypes are sometimes played for laughs, as in a scene showing an obese man running in slow motion with a large ham sandwich in his hand, or Andy and Simon claiming to be stymied by Wally's accent. Lew is often rude and/or confrontational, and he takes particular delight in taunting Simon. Not much diversity in the cast. But Andy is an earnest, well-intentioned hero who wants to help people.


Andy is sometimes in peril, though most of it is played for comedy. Bad guys carry guns, though shooting is minimal. Physical fights (punching, kicking, etc.) sometimes result in bruises or scrapes. Supporting characters have died in connection with Andy's cases, but it's never graphic or gruesome.


Sex-related talk includes assessments of a person's sexual desirability and terms like "boobs," "wood," and "nipples." Andy and his wife sit in bed together in pajamas; some mild kissing.


Words like "ass," "hell," and "slutty" are infrequent (Andy prefers terms like "fudge" and "Mother Hubbard").


Plenty of references to pop-culture figures, but no notable product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some supporting characters smoke, despite repeated objections from Andy.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sitcom (which was co-created by Conan O'Brien) is relatively light fare by modern prime-time standards. Quirky characters and unlikely scenarios (like a novice P.I. confronting armed Russian mafia thugs in an abandoned building and using a talking Sandra Bullock doll to outsmart them and save their victim) account for most of the show's laughs. If your tweens are begging to watch some adult-oriented TV, this one's a pretty safe choice, since sex, language, and violence are kept to a minimum. Star Andy Richter's superb timing and great delivery help overcome the far-fetched plots and sometimes-uneven writing.

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What's the story?

Andy Barker (Andy Richter) looks every bit the sensible, straitlaced CPA that his polished brass nameplate says he is. He's most relaxed when he's crunching numbers, he sweats if he drives over the speed limit, and he's got a snug little suburban home, complete with a trimmed yard and a front walk where his sugary-sweet wife, Jenny (Clea Lewis), sees him off to work each day. But it turns out that Andy's new office's previous occupant was a private investigator, and people are still seeking his services. Bitten by the curiosity bug -- and for lack of anything better to do -- Andy straps on his gumshoes and discovers that he has a knack (and a lot of luck) for connecting the dots and outsmarting the bad guys. Andy's success rate is impressive, though he owes it more to dumb luck and the help of his friends, downstairs mall neighbor Simon (Arrested Development's Tony Hale) -- a video store owner who can relate any life experience to a movie plot; Wally (Marshall Manesh), the proprietor of a nearby Afghan kabob joint; and the previous occupant of Suite 210, retired P.I. Lew Staziak (Harve Presnell).

Is it any good?

Co-created by late-night funny guy Conan O'Brien, ANDY BARKER, P.I. is a comedy of twists and turns, over-the-top scenarios, and quirky characters. Richter (O'Brien's former sidekick) makes the far-fetched stories work, but a lot of the show's comedy is of the quirky, bone-dry variety. If you're looking for a grown-up show that's safe to share with older tweens, this one might fit the bill, since it's light on the iffy stuff (sex, violence, language) that often douses other prime-time series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about comedy on TV. Do you find this show funny? How does its comedy style differ from other series you've seen? What type of comedy do you prefer? Families can also discuss career choices. What draws people to their chosen field? How difficult do you think it would be to change careers later in life? Do you think people are defined by what they do? To what degree does money determine people's career paths?

TV details

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