Black Books

Common Sense Media says

Funny, offbeat Britcom is doused in alcohol.

Age(i)

2
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The three main characters have serious flaws, including various neuroses, anti-social behavior, and drunkenness. But somehow the mixture works for their friendship.

Violence

What little violence there is (mostly fistfights) is always played for laughs -- but does occasionally result in bloodiness.

Sex

Lots of innuendo and jokes about characters' sexual encounters, promiscuity, and homosexuality.

Language

Occasional use of "ass," "bitch," "damn," and "hell." Exclamations like "Oh Christ!" are more common.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One main character is an alcoholic who's rarely without a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other. His friends often join him in his drinking. Much of the show's humor revolves around the ill effects of his dependency, which are always played for laughs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that one of the main characters in this offbeat British sitcom is a chain-smoking, bad-tempered alcoholic who's rarely shown without a drink and/or a cigarette in hand. Each of the three main characters is afflicted with various eccentricities that are further exaggerated for comedy. Conversations often touch on sexuality (including drunken encounters), homosexuality, and the positive aspects of heavy drinking, but the rolling repertoire of jokes keeps the tone light and the laughs coming. While it definitely isn't meant for general family viewing, teens (and their parents) who can take the rampant bad behavior in stride will enjoy the show's wit, sarcasm, and delightfully flawed characters.

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
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What's the story?

In the darkly funny British sitcom BLACK BOOKS, Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) is the proprietor of a London bookstore -- which wouldn't be such an odd career choice if it weren't for the fact that he loathes people in general and his store's patrons in particular. Fortunately (according to the show, anyway), he has a high tolerance for alcohol, which he depends on to wear down his rough edges when he's forced to interact with the unwitting customers who wander into Black Books. Drink firmly in hand, he occasionally manages a few decent words before running the literary lovers out the door with his verbal abuse. The store's accountant Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey), on the other hand, possesses the patience of a saint, thanks to a freak incident by which he gained inner peace after he accidentally ingested a tiny, dog-eared copy of The Little Book of Calm -- purchased, coincidentally, at Black Books -- and started spewing the book's nuggets of wisdom to everyone around him. As the two polar opposites cope with the uncertainties of their working relationship, Bernard's pseudo-friend, Fran (Tamsin Greig) -- who runs the high-end curio shop next door -- pops in and out of Black Books to add her own neuroses to the already madcap cocktail of personalities.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

As twisted and alcohol-soaked as it might be, witty writing and a sharp cast make Black Books as much fun as happy hour at the neighborhood pub. If your teens can handle the adult-oriented subject matter -- which often includes jokes about sexuality and the upside of continuous intoxication -- they'll probably get as many laughs as you do out of sadistic social misfit Bernard and his unlikely circle of friends.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the realities of drinking. How does Bernard's apparent addiction affect his anti-social behavior? How does the show make light of alcoholism? What other ways do the media portray drinking and "partying"? Why does drinking play such a big part in social situations? Have teens been at parties/other events where people have been drinking? What did they do? How would they handle it if a friend wanted to drive drunk? Parents can use this as an opportunity to remind teens about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

TV details

Cast:Bill Bailey, Dylan Moran, Tamsin Greig
Network:BBC America
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of Black Books was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byIan D. March 21, 2012
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Hilarious Britcom.

This show is about an Irish drunk named Manny who owns a bookshop, and his friends Manny and Fran. Violence is very mild and slapstick. Language is moderate, "bloody" is used a lot, and some other moderate language. Sex references are also moderate, however never gets to bad. The alchohol is plentiful, HOWEVER parents shouldn't be conserned about it, unless their kids imitate everything they watch on TV. Overall, the show is great for teenagers and up, because it isn't much worst than american sitcoms now. However, I don't think anyone under 10 should view this.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byindependant April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Adult

Not much to say. The previous reviewer has laid out the synopsis for anyone who needs exhibition. This program is no longer running, but can be seen on the BBC and DVD.
Parent Written byJane Dail Esquire September 28, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Love it

Great, only thing is that the main char. is achoholic, but besides that it's fine for kids past 10

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