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 Bless This Mess is a half-hour comedy about a city couple who movie to the country. It was created by star Lake Bell, who also wrote and directed the indie film In A World.... The series also stars Parenthood alum Dax Shepard, Ed Begley Jr., Pam Grier (The L Word), and Anchorman star David Koechner. The show focuses on Rio (Bell) and Mike (Shepard), a recently-wed couple who give up their lives in the city to work and live on a Nebraskan farm Mike has recently inherited. The language and humor are both fairly mild, with a few suggestive jokes here and there, and some mild potty-type jokes. No real violence to speak of (Rio is terrified of cows, but isn't actually attacked by any); some brand names like U-Haul and Nissan are seen.
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What's the story?
BLESS THIS MESS follows the journey of Rio (Lake Bell) and Mike (Dax Shepard), an affectionate couple who are happy in their marriage ("One year in and not a single argument!", they like to boast) but dissatisfied with life in New York City. Lucky for them, then, that Mike inherits an old family farm they can move to. The two decide to uproot their lives, leaving their jobs as a music journalist and therapist to work the land as alfalfa farmers. The fact that neither of them has actually seen the farm, nor do they know anything about farming, does not factor into their plans. They'll meet a cast of oddball townspeople -- such as Ed Begley Jr.'s Rudy, a handyman type who lives in the barn on their property but comes inside to use their toilet -- who soon show these city slickers that they may have gotten in over their heads with this whole crazy venture.
Is it any good?
The tried-and-true "fish out of water" formula has been done before -- the similarities to Green Acres are copious, right down to the inherited handyman -- so they're not reinventing the wheel here. But the overall vibe of Bless This Mess is enjoyable enough, with a cast of solid comedy players who have nice chemistry together. Pam Grier is an especially amusing standout as Connie, who not only owns the general store, she's also the sheriff and theater owner (they recently did a production of Les Mis, she tells us, and she "played a French ho!"). The series wisely positions Rio and Mike as the targets of our incredulous laughter -- what hubris, to move to the country thinking it'll all be so easy! -- and doesn't portray the Nebraskan townies as illiterate hayseeds. It's too soon to tell if the show can maintain interest for long, the stakes don't seem especially high for any of the characters, but it's a fun enough mid-season diversion that could have real potential.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the "fish out of water" concept, and talk about other shows and movies that have used the same formula. How does Bless This Mess differ from these? In what ways are they similar?
Do you think audiences are supposed to find Rio and Mike likable? How does the show portray their aptitude when it comes to farm life? Do the townspeople in their new Nebraskan home seem to be suspicious or welcoming?
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