A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that B Positive, the latest show from sitcom king Chuck Lorre, is about a 30-something single father Drew (Thomas Middleditch) who needs a kidney and reluctantly accepts the offer of one from a hard-partying high school acquaintance, Gina (Annaleigh Ashford). The premise itself requires a certain amount of bodily humor -- lots of pee talk, in particular. B Positive's theme song, an old-timey ditty that proclaims "It’s your prerogative to be positive" plays over cartoony absurdist drawings of a centuries-old operating theater that graphically focuses on blood and innards. Gina appears obviously inebriated, and we see her smoke pot and drink wine, plus she refers to taking Xanax. At a doctor's office with her friend and fellow partier Gabby (Kether Donohue), she implies she could get a prescription for whatever drug they'd like. Drew's 12-year-old daughter, Maddie (Izzy G), speaks dismissively -- when at all -- to her father (he suggests it's because he and her mother recently split). In Gina's job as a van driver for a senior living center, the passengers function less as characters than as a source of laughs, and Gina refers numerous times -- again, for laughs -- to how many have died.
What's the story?
B POSITIVE is about a 30-something recently divorced father Drew (Thomas Middleditch), who learns in the pilot's opening scene that he needs a kidney. He happens to run into a hard-partying high school acquaintance, Gina (Annaleigh Ashford), at a wedding. Upon hearing his plight, Gina offers a kidney. She later reveals that years earlier she'd totaled her car and felt she was saved to do something more important with her life. Might this be it? Drew has no friends or family who would agree to donate a kidney, so he reluctantly accepts her offer. At her doctor's appointment, Gina discovers both that she's a match for Drew and that she has to stop drinking and taking drugs for three months before she can donate a kidney, restrictions she eventually agrees to. The show also features Drew's antisocial 12-year-old daughter, Maddie (Izzy G), his ex-wife Julia (Sarah Rue), and Gina's best friend/bawdy sidekick, Gabby (Kether Donohue). Gina's job as a van driver for seniors features a cast of older characters who serve as a peanut gallery and fan club.
Is it any good?
Can a sitcom based on the inherently unfunny topic of organ replacement actually be funny? With a cast of comedy veterans and a focus on kindness, signs point to a good match. Just when you think Chuck Lorre can't add any twists to his oeuvre -- which includes The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Two and a Half Men -- he offers up a show based on a simple premise that doesn't sound comedic: single dad Drew (Thomas Middleditch, best known from HBO's Silicon Valley) needs a kidney. Loosely based on Mom writer Marco Pennette's own story, B Positive gets the pee-related kidney humor out of the way early (and often) so we can focus on Drew and his high school acquaintance Gina, the only donor who's both willing and debatably able to offer a kidney. Gina is played by Annaleigh Ashford, an acclaimed actor in stage musicals, as well as a Masters of Sex series regular. Her party-girl Gina is a combination of bravado and vulnerability, whose camp counselor tendencies are on full display when she leads her elderly charges in the assisted-living van in a chorus of "I like big butts and I cannot lie." Her outsized energy complements Drew's deadpan depressive demeanor.
In the pilot, we only briefly meet Drew's uncommunicative pre-teen daughter (Izzy G, who last co-starred with RuPaul in Netflix's AJ and the Queen), and it's clear their relationship will likely provide fodder for "growth" storylines. Gina's friendship with fellow partier Gabby is promising from the start -- in a bit of typecasting, Kether Donohue plays a version of her I'm-a-pain-but-so-fun Lindsay character in You're the Worst. Familiarity can breed comfort. Likewise, the familiar beats of a multi-cam sitcom are a welcome respite when every day can feel a bit too new and surprising.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real-life experience of B Positive creator Marco Pennette, who received a donated kidney from a family acquaintance. How do you think Pennette's experiences inform the plot and enhance the characters?
What else have you seen Thomas Middleditch in? Talk about his ability to portray vastly different characters. How do you think his acclaimed work as an improv artist contributes to his acting abilities?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love edgy sitcoms
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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