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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 Bad Judge is a comedy about a single, fortysomething criminal judge who takes her job lightly and her nightlife seriously. There are frequent references to drinking, including discussions of hangovers and blackouts. Sexual references also figure largely, with the main character cheerfully carrying on multiple affairs with few consequences besides the occasional pregnancy worries. The judge does a number of morally/ethically questionable things, including parking in a handicapped space and using a fake placard for her windshield, as well as calling a boyfriend to get frisky with her in chambers while a case is in session. Crimes such as bigamy are played for laughs, and young characters disrespect authority figures. Still, there is genuine affection among characters, and they generally treat each other with kindness, if mockingly.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
With a personal life that ranges from bohemianism to blackouts, even when she's on the job and doing her not-so-level best to hold it together, Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh) is a BAD JUDGE. She is unrepentant about her multiple affairs, her penchant for drinking until she drops, playing drums in a two-woman punk band called Lady Cock, and her single, childless state. Her loyal and long-suffering bailiff Tedward (Tone Bell) helps keep her from losing her seat on the bench entirely, but coworkers such as defense attorney Tom Barlow (John Ducey) think she's a giant mess. And with 8-year-old Robby Shoemaker (Theodore Barnes) entering her life after Wright put both his parents in jail, things are about to get messier.
Is it any good?
As with the main character, Bad Judge is a mess. It's more or less a rip-off of Bad Teacher and other well-trodden Workplace Irony: She's a judge, but she has bad judgment! You get it? Sigh, we get it. And we wish charming, louche Kate Walsh had better material to work with. Would a judge who hands her just-peed-on pregnancy test to her bailiff have a job for long? What about one who explains that she had wine and cake for breakfast before coming to work? Ummmmm, grounds for a mistrial much?
Pity, because Walsh is great, and the interplay between her and Bell is effervescent. But asking the viewer to buy Walsh's antics and then adding on a layer of schmaltz by putting a young almost-orphan in her life is just too much. Frantic, unbelievable humor followed by saccharine plot twists? Even Walsh can't put that over.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Rebecca Wright of Bad Judge is good at her job or, as the title states, bad. What makes her an effective or ineffective judge? What is shown on-screen that influences your opinion?
Shows that feature a fallible main character are common on TV these days; this is the tradition of "antiheroes." Name some antiheroes in movies or on television. How is Rebecca Wright like or unlike these characters?
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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.