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 Another Period is a satirical comedy set in the early 1900s that's steeped in topics such as incest, homosexuality, extramarital affairs, rape, prostitution, drug use, and drinking. The central figures are members of a wealthy Northeastern family who are desperate to become famous among their upper-class peers. To that end, they manipulate, sabotage, and revel in others' (and even each other's) misfortune, all for their own selfish gains. Bedroom scenes typically take place with clothes on, but there is some simulated sex, and it's implied that house servants also pleasure their employers during intimate moments such as bath time. Expect to hear many discussions about sex, as well as quite a bit of language ("bitch," "s--t," "g--damn," plus body references such as "penis" and "piss flaps"). Heated exchanges occasionally turn violent, with some injuries from guns.
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What's the story?
ANOTHER PERIOD centers on the wealthy Bellacourt family, whose sprawling Rhode Island estate is teeming with scandals on any given day. Their story opens with sisters Lillian (Natasha Leggero) and Beatrice (Riki Lindhome), having learned of the untimely (but not unwelcome) deaths of their BFFs/social rivals, plotting to take their places among society's upper crust. Of course, there are messy little details to contend with first, such as their irksome sister, Hortense (whom her family calls "Hor") (Artemis Pebdani), and her inexplicable infatuation with issues such as women's suffrage; their mother's (Paget Brewster) morphine addiction; their husbands' (David Wain and Brian Huskey) homosexual affair; and the fact that Beatrice is not-so-secretly involved with her amorous brother, Frederick (Jason Ritter). And that's just what's going on in the family residence. In the servants' quarters below, there's no shortage of drama, especially with the arrival of a mysterious new maid (Christina Hendricks) who's harboring a secret about the Bellacourt patriarch, Commodore (David Koechner).
Is it any good?
Another Period is as scintillating as it is irreverent in its blistering satire of both period dramas and reality shows. The show lives up to its likeness to a marriage of Downton Abbey and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, taking the uneven relationships between the elite and their servants to a new level of reliance and debauchery that would be disturbing if it wasn't so funny. The loathsome, self-indulgent Bellacourts -- and social-climbing dimwits Beatrice and Lillian in particular -- would be a distasteful bunch in real life (c'mon, they give their servants names such as "Chair" and "Mr. Peepers," for heaven's sake), but fortunately for viewers, they're fictional characters just begging to be laughed at.
This show's sharp writing and exceptional comedic cast rake in rapid-fire laughs with content that's heavy on shock value. Even with a setup, you're never quite prepared for the implications of Beatrice and Frederick's physical relationship, the characters' detailed oversharing about sex during confessionals, or their disparaging remarks about each other. No one is spared being the butt of a joke, from socially disengaged (and somewhat portly) Hortense to Helen Keller, and Beatrice and Lillian's vanity and intellectual shortcomings are oft-played themes. Another Period isn't the kind of show you'd want to share with your impressionable teens, but there's no denying it's a laugh-out-loud guilty pleasure adults will enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what, if anything, is the point of this series. Does it send any messages about class during the time in which it's set? In what cases does it more accurately reflect how things are today?
How has our definition of fame changed in recent years? What kinds of public figures were revered as heroes in the past as opposed to today? What role has the Internet played in who becomes famous and how people go about it? Is this a good change or a negative one?
Teens: What is the appeal of unlikable characters such as the ones in this show? Do they have any redeeming qualities? Is it necessary to learn something from a TV show or movie to consider it a success?
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