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 Baskets is a comedy about a clumsy American loser whose one desire is to be a great French clown. There's a bit of cartoonish violence: A man takes a job as a rodeo clown and must avoid charging bulls who sometimes make contact, leaving bruises and wounds. Bawdy visuals include a man losing his pants while marching; later he appears in a robe with only nude Spanx underneath (no private parts are visible), plus a few veiled sexual references. Cursing includes "s--t," "hell," and "ass." One character frequently smokes cigarettes on-screen. The overall tone is deadpan and rather depressing.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Bleak comedy series BASKETS centers on the (lame) life and (foolish) ambitions of Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), a 40-something hapless loser who is forced to move back to his hometown of Bakersfield, California, when his dreams of attending French clown school crash and burn after he discovers you need to speak French to understand the lessons there. He brings with him a French wife, Penelope (Sabina Sciubba), who openly tells him she does not love him at all and only married him so she could live in America, and he gets a job as a rodeo clown making $4 an hour. Worse, he has to contend with his disappointed mother (played by Louie Anderson) and his contemptuous twin brother, Dale (Galifianakis, in a dual role), who runs a local career college. His only friend is his insurance agent Martha (Martha Kelly), who's weird and kind of annoying, but Chip's in no position to turn down anyone who's willing to hang out with him and give him rides.
Is it any good?
With comedian Louis CK in the director's chair, it's no surprise that this outing is like his own self-named show: deadpan, ironic, and by turns amusing and bleak. Chip Baskets is a ridiculous figure, to be sure -- actually wanting to be a French clown? Any American could tell you how that's going to play here -- but played sympathetically by Galifianakis and given backstory and motivations viewers can relate to, he comes off as a character you can laugh with and not at. Not that there is a ton of guffawing here -- the chuckles are more of the rueful and knowing variety than thigh-slappers. Still, fans of that kind of (sometimes uncomfortable) humor will enjoy watching Chip explain to Martha why her dress looks like a shower curtain and Chip's mom Mrs. Baskets (played in a surprisingly effective bit of stunt casting by venerable comic Anderson) extoll the virtues of her adopted second set of twin sons over her bio-sons. It's exactly what you'd expect of both Galifianakis (a lovable loser) and CK (who enjoys evoking conflicted laughter), so if you like that kind of thing, you'll like this particular thing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why is the point made that Chip would prefer to be a French, not American, clown? What is the difference? Why is one funnier than the other?
American comedy frequently mocks the French. What examples can you think of? How are French people presented in American humor? Describe a French person as seen from the perspective of an American sitcom. Would it surprise you to know that European shows frequently mock Americans?
Is the audience supposed to like Chip? To relate to him? To be disgusted by him? How can you tell?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love dark comedy
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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