Are You Being Served?

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Are You Being Served? TV Poster Image
70s Britcom needs context to appreciate humor.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A main character is an overly effeminate man whom everyone presumes is homosexual (though it's never stated outright). Sexist remarks are played for humor, and the series pokes fun at class divisions within British society. Double entendres often play on sexual references. Gender stereotyping runs rampant, but it's within the context of the time period.

Violence
Sex

Occasional suggestive jokes (a handkerchief folded and puffed to resemble a penis, for example); frequent double entendres often include sexual innuendo, like a woman talking about her "p---y" (she means "cat," of course, but...!). Naked female mannequins are often involved in comic scenarios with sexual overtones.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Conversations allude to alcohol use by some adult characters.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this classic '70s/'80s British sitcom finds a lot of its humor in suggestive double entendres (a woman talking "innocently" about her cat uses the word "p---y," for example) and fairly vague sexual innuendo. Men frequently make sexist remarks about women -- who have little recourse, since the men rarely pay their concerns much mind. One main character is an effeminate man who everyone assumes is homosexual, though it's never confirmed. Teens will likely find the series dated and dry, but adults who can put it into context will get a few chuckles.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byte_quiero_mas April 9, 2008

this show is hilarious!

i used to watch it with my grandpa and it was awesome! i never know when its on anymore, so i don't watch it as much. each character has a completely diffe... Continue reading
Parent Written byCooldee January 2, 2012

Best British TV show of all time!

This is the best British TV show of all time because it makes me laugh so much that I burst out laughing really loud! The characters talk about sex alot, but a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bywhaletalk June 20, 2009

Funniest show ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hilarious!!!!!!!!! I watch it with my parents!
Teen, 14 years old Written bySynchronicity April 9, 2008

I'm a teen and I love this series!

This show is really funny. It's about a family of people who work at the Grace department store. There's some sexual humor, and one of the characters... Continue reading

What's the story?

Practically an institution in the world of British comedy, ARE YOU BEING SERVED? is set in the floundering Grace Brothers department store, where the employees fill their abundant free time by driving each other crazy with their irksome ways. There's stern Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton), who dictates orders to employees and nitpicks on deviations from the norm as he paces the floor in constant vigilance; grouchy Mr. Grainger (Arthur Brough) oversees the men's department, aided by hopeless salesman Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister) and flamboyant Mr. Humphries (John Inman), whose effeminate mannerisms -- and co-habitation with his mother -- lead many to assume he's gay. Shaking up the male-dominated mix is Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden), the outspoken head of the newly installed ladies' fashion department, whose myriad hair colors and penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time fuel the men's ongoing exasperation. Her hard-working young assistant, Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard) -- though much less apt to draw attention to herself -- still ends up fending off both romantic advances and sexist remarks.

Is it any good?

Are You Being Served? continues to enjoy popularity on both sides of the pond more than 30 years after its hasty launch on British TV. The show's nods to classic British humor include sight gags, misunderstandings galore, and double entendres (the most popular of which involved Mrs. Slocombe's tales about her cat, which she always called "p---y"). It also serves up a hefty dose of mockery at the traditional English class system, which is best appreciated by viewers familiar with its inner workings.

The series will appeal mostly to adults, who will be able to put the extreme gender stereotyping, tense relationships between the sexes, and suggestive double entendres in context. Teens, on the other hand, will probably be turned off by the show's obviously passé feel; if they do tune in, be sure to give them some background on now-dated gender relationships and views on homosexuality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how entertainment reflects the cultural changes of the time. How does this show portray British class issues of the '70s and '80s? What challenges were women facing at the time? How was homosexuality viewed? Do you think the show even tries to be accurate, or is it all exaggerated for humor? By comparison, how do today's TV shows portray women and people of different sexual orientations?

TV details

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