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Angel from Hell
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 Angel from Hell is a comedy about an unconventional guardian angel who intervenes in the life of a tightly wound dermatologist. The show seems to find it amusing and charming that the angel appears to be a heavy drinker; she carries a flask, hangs out in bars, and frequently refers to being loaded or drunk. Many scenes take place in bars with characters drinking cocktails, beer, and shots. Expect mild cursing, usually "hell," "damn," or "ass," and some off-color discussion of bodily functions, sex, and intimacy. Most teens can handle the mild action and vulgarity, but they probably won't be that interested in these characters.
What's the story?
Right in the middle of an ordinary day, Allison (Maggie Lawson) finds she has a stalker, the quirky close-up magician who performs at her neighborhood farmer's market. But that magician isn't really a magician -- Amy (Jane Lynch) is actually Allison's guardian angel. Make that her ANGEL FROM HELL, because Amy is hardly angelic. She curses, she drinks, she interferes in Allison's life in ways that seem anything but helpful. Meanwhile, Allison has to hide Amy's true identity from her lovable loser of a brother Brad (Kyle Bornheimer) and sweet but irritating father Marv (Kevin Pollak), who live in Allison's garage and own a dermatology practice with Allison, respectively. It's a lot to keep straight. Luckily, Allison has a guardian angel on her side.
Is it any good?
This is the type of show that telegraphs its every comic move (and no, making the angel a drinker doesn't count as fresh), but the proceedings are enlivened by the casting and semi-sharp gags. Jane Lynch has been a reliably crusty presence on shows such as Glee and Party Down, and Kevin Pollak is always a welcome and genial presence on screens both large and small. On the downside, Allison is a truly tired TV type, the gorgeous but supposedly awkward blonde who's suspiciously young for the great job she has.
Which makes the stakes in this comedy so low is that it's hard for viewers to invest, no matter how many "this is Jane Lynch being charmingly offensive" moments get thrown at the audience. Some of the gags do hit the target -- Amy finally convinces Allison she's been watching over her by revealing she knows Allison got her first period at a Red Lobster -- but it all seems just as fake, and not ironically so, as any of those 1960s "magical" sitcoms (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie). It's a good-enough show with a talented cast but definitely not appointment television.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why shows about magic and fairy tales are popular. Which others can you name? How is Angel from Hell alike or different from these shows?
How would this show change if Amy were a genie instead of an angel? A witch? A fairy? A leprechaun? What other magical beings could Amy be, and how would they change things?