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 Champaign ILL is a series about two hangers-on who fall on hard times. It centers on two friends who are loyal, loving, kind, and caring to each other, but who also have a lot of problematic viewpoints, make mistakes, and tell a lot of dirty jokes. Mature content is generally in dialogue instead of imagery, but the content goes to some mature places. Alf is looking for romance (chiefly with a long lost ex) but also has fond memories of his colorful sexual past and refers to having sex as if he were a "guest at Westworld" and to hooking up a friend with "multiple butt f--ks." Characters do have sex on the show with movements and noises, but bodies are concealed under sheets. We do see characters smoking pot, taking pills (especially to conceal them from drug-sniffing dogs at the airport), rubbing white powder on their teeth, drinking liquor and champagne, and more. Language is frequent, though generally joking: "f--k," "motherf--kers," "p---y" (the body part and a synonym for cowardly), "s--t." Violence is largely confined to one scene in which a character dies suddenly and tragically. A character has a larger body type and is subjected to fat jokes (he's wearing an obvious fat suit).
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What's the story?
Ronnie (Adam Pally), Alf (Sam Richardson), and Lou (Jay Pharoah) grew up together in CHAMPAIGN, ILL and graduated 15 years ago with big plans: Alf was going to college with and marry his longtime love Courtney (Sabrina Revelle), Ronnie was off to Yale, and Lou had just gotten an offer from a major label to record his music. Cue a long and decadent hip-hop-star lifestyle montage, with Ronnie and Alf playing entourage to ultra-successful Lou. But when Lou unexpectedly dies while shooting a music video, Ronnie and Alf are forced to retreat back to the Midwest to live with their parents -- and to try to put some kind of normal life together.
Is it any good?
With sly comic writing that delightfully punches up a could-skew-dumb premise, this sharp YouTube series is lots of goofy fun for adults and mature teens. Sam Richardson (who viewers may recognize from Veep or Detroiters) and Adam Pally (of the late, great, mourned Happy Endings) are great together, basically two spoiled and entitled fish out of water who are horrified by such mundane experiences as commercial air travel.
Once their luxury lifestyle has been canceled, there's nowhere to go but home, but there are changes there too -- Ronnie's room has been transformed into a salon for his mom's pet dog Taffy, and Alf's dad (legend Keith David, saddled with the world's worst fat suit) is "officially talk-show fat" but the weird thing is that Alf can't tell if "he's the saddest man alive or he's got it all figured out." Ronnie and Alf are now broke guys in their 30s with no education, no prospects, and not much to hold onto. As fun as it is to watch these two charming man-boys wither under pressure, it's even more fun watching them figure out how to live in the real world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about drugs and drug use. Do you think this is an accurate depiction of social attitudes about marijuana? Why or why not? Does the movie address any of the consequences of drug use? As a comedy, is it expected to?
Many TV shows revolve around a character who's new to a time or place: a new coworker, a new city, a new group of friends, etc. Why? What's the dramatic or comedic potential of these setups?
How is the audience supposed to feel about Alf and Ronnie? How can you tell? What about their costumes, dialogue, plotlines make you have these feelings about these characters?
For kids who love comedy
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