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Better Off Ted
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 this workplace dramedy is more or less a "black comedy," meaning it's presented with deadpan seriousness -- but isn't meant to be taken seriously. Most kids probably won't get the joke, but older teens who tune in may appreciate the satire. The language is pretty tame for primetime, but there are a few words (like "bitchy" and "scrotum") that might be too much for tweens. There's also some sexual innuendo and casual references to office affairs, although the show goes out of its way to keep things suggestive rather than graphic.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A once-unscupulous R&D executive (Jay Harrington) grows a conscience when his ethically bankrupt boss (Portia de Rossi) suggests they try crygenically freezing a co-worker "just to see if it's possible" in BETTER OFF TED, a shrewdly packaged workplace dramedy set inside a shifty corporation that tackles questionable projects like weaponizing pumpkins. (Yes, pumpkins.) With moral support from his school-age daughter (Isabella Acres), Ted sets out to do his job better, all the while getting closer to a pretty office mate (Andrea Anders) who steals creamer on the company's dime.
Is it any good?
Although the title leaves a lot to be desired, Better Off Ted is a clever satire with a lot going for it, beginning with a well-casted ensemble of quirky characters who serve up loaded lines like "You have the most beautiful skin. I wish there was a way to peel it off your face and attach it to mine" with deadpan precision. Harrington proves ever-watchable with a well-pressed charm that smacks of George Clooney, and fans of Arrested Development who are still licking their wounds from the show's long-ago cancellation will love seeing de Rossi back in the saddle.
Better Off Ted is definitely more of a thinking person's comedy, so it may or may not find an audience among a crowded playing field of broadly comic alternatives. But if it does catch on? We say it will be a welcome addition.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the fictional corporation portrayed in this series could bear any resemblance to an actual company. How do you think actual companies handle ethical dilemmas and the development of new products? What if there were no governmental safeguards in place to police corporate and scientific ethics? Do you think companies would still behave ethically? Families can also discuss satire. What makes this show satirical? How does it compare to other sitcoms set in the workplace?