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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Champions is a comedy about a teen who moves in with his dad and uncle so that he can attend an arts school in New York City. The diversity and inclusiveness of the cast is impressive: There are many characters of color, women in strong roles, and a proud gay character who is lovingly accepted by all. Race, sexuality, and ethnicity are frequently discussed in jokes that come off as playful and fresh: "They found a body behind the gym and it's a white body, so they're actually interested in finding out who did it," runs a typical gag. Characters are single and available for romance; expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, dating, flirting, and sometimes-rude jokes about sex. Violence is also fodder for jokes, like when a man holds Vince at gunpoint for having sex with his wife. Vince is apparently a reformed alcoholic and pot smoker -- a woman broke up with him when he caused a gas station explosion by smoking a joint. Cursing and rough language is infrequent: "damn," "hell," "dammit," "crap," "douche bag," "balls."
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What's the story?
At the Brooklyn gym that Vince (Anders Holm) owns with his brother Matthew (Andy Favreau), the two are CHAMPIONS, the only two guys with their own private offices. But Vince's life is turned upside-down when his high school girlfriend Priya (Mindy Kaling, also one of this comedy's creators) re-enters his life with a surprise for him: Their 15-year-old son, Michael (Josie Totah), who she's raised alone in Cleveland, now wants to go to school in New York City -- and he's moving into the tiny apartment his dad shares with his Uncle Matthew. Now Vince has to toe the line and forget his plans to dump the gym and his brother and move to Florida; while Matthew quickly discovers that Michael fills the nephew-sized hole in his life he didn't even know he had. Can these very different males live together and make an unconventional family that's actually happy?
Is it any good?
On paper, it looks like a retread of Two and a Half Men, but this sitcom is a lot sweeter and smarter -- even if a lot of the characters are over-the-top wacky in a way that recalls Community. The gym, in particular, is staffed with a variety ot types who seem calculated to offer a particular brand of comic relief, most particularly the blunt, clueless Ruby (Fortune Feimster), who sums up her feelings about being caught doping in the 2004 Olympics with this excuse: "How else are you supposed to throw a hammer? Hammers are heavy!" Vince, too, is a bit of a sitcom stereotype; the silver-tongued rake who effortlessly bags women who should be way out of his league, yet has a heart of gold somewhere deep inside.
Yet we haven't seen a character like Michael on TV before, or if we have, it hasn't been often enough. Proudly gay, unashamedly a high school misfit, this Les Miserables-quoting, cranky, torch song-loving teen is a quirky, complicated, confident breath of fresh air, and he gets all the best lines. "I'm tired of being cooped up here like Belle, Tangled, Sleeping Beauty," he complains to his dad about living in a small apartment. His chemistry with Kaling's Priya and his uncle is sweet and relatable, and viewers will want to see how this plucky not-always-likable character fares in the big city. With him at the center of the action, Champions is a winner.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's ever appropriate to use stereotypes to create humor. Why or why not? How are stereotypes used in Champions?
Would you consider the characters role models? Are their relationships realistic? How do they change over the course of the series? What do they learn?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedy
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