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 in this silly sitcom (which was inspired by a series of Geico insurance ads), cavemen are on the receiving end of prejudices similar to those experienced by African-Americans and other minority groups. Jokes about oppression and prejudice are constant, and, while treated with humor, could be interpreted as making too light of a serious real-life subject. Sexual humor is common (in one episode, a woman tries to seduce a caveman because of the stereotype that cavemen are "wild" in bed), as are social drinking and words like "hell" and "screw." Couples occasionally kiss, embrace, or dance seductively, but these moments are brief and usually comic.
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What's the story?
If you were a fan of the Geico insurance commercials about oppressed cavemen, you're in luck. Now the three hairy Cro-Magnons have their own sitcom -- called, fittingly enough, CAVEMAN. Lead character Joel (Bill English) is engaged to a beautiful modern woman who loves him for the caveman that he is, though her family hasn't yet accepted him. Nick (Nick Kroll) is the cynical best friend who sees judgment everywhere and lashes out frequently. And Joel's little brother, Andy (Sam Huntington), is an easygoing fellow, perhaps a little slow on the uptake, who's oblivious to others' opinions of him. The three guys consistently find themselves in situations where they have to deal with misunderstandings and stereotypes associated with cavemen.
Is it any good?
Most of the circumstances are outright gags -- don't expect much subtle humor here. What little depth the show has comes from its allusions to modern race relations. For example, when money goes missing at a party, all eyes immediately turn suspiciously toward the central trio -- the only cavemen in attendance -- pointing, albeit lightly, toward the embedded racism of mainstream society.
While the caveman gags quickly wear thin, the cavemen-as-minority formula is actually a good opportunity to discuss racial and other types of prejudice with teens. The Cro-Magnons serve as a safe proxy for oppressed groups because they're so unreal, but their experiences can shine a light on what certain groups really go through. Of course, the danger here is that sometimes the show's lightweight approach to the serious subject of race ends up feeling like belittlement rather than examination.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the media's relationship to stereotypes, prejudice, and oppression. Does the media typically reinforce the beliefs that lead to these problems or question them? Can addressing serious topics with humor help shed light on their sobering realities? In the case of this show, does it take that approach, or does it belittle the experiences of real-life minority groups? Families can also discuss the show's origins. Does knowing it was inspired by a series of ads make you take it more or less seriously? Why?
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