Chicago Party Aunt

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Chicago Party Aunt TV Poster Image
Gag-heavy animated series has mature content, heart.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The vibe is gag-heavy like many other aimed-at-adults animated shows, and the humor is often profane, but sweet and reliable bonds between family and longtime friends inject some heart into these proceedings. 

Positive Role Models

Diane is a drinker and partier, she's irresponsible and has lived a dissolute life, but she also loves her family. "You're cool and talented," she tells her nephew. "You're going to be aces, no matter where you end up." There's a lot of love between family members, even if the antics are adults-only and the gags are silly. 

Diverse Representations

Main characters are almost entirely White, but a few people of color inhabit this universe as side characters, with characters who are Black and voiced by actors who are also people of color, including Diane's boss Gideon, introduced as a pretentious blowhard who eventually is revealed as a man of taste and character. Diane and her friends are mostly lower middle class in terms of wealth and education; people with more money and education are often lampooned as arrogant and uncaring. 

Violence

Violence is comic: a character slams a door and it ricochets back and hits them in the face. 

Sex

Mature sexual content includes a scene in which Diane invites her husband to "angry 69" after an argument and one in which Diane says she's "gotten pregnant and unpregnant" in a week, presumably referring to either miscarriage or an abortion. In another typical scene, Bonnie walks in on her son masturbating to a porn video on his computer; we see shirtless men on the screen, and Daniel with lotion on his hands, covering up his nudity with furniture. 

Language

Cursing is frequent: "f--king," "badass," "s--t," "damn," "tits," "hell," "goddamn," "f--k." There's also insulting language like when Diane calls her sister a "whore" and a "dick" when she's angry at her, and calls her brother-in-law a "p---y" (meaning "coward"). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Diane smokes cigarettes showily and frequently, emitting clouds of smoke to punctuate statements. She also guzzles liquor and beer, and we see characters vomiting after drinking too much, characters drinking from beer bongs, drinking until they're dizzy, are sloppy, pass out. In other scenes, characters smoke joints. There's a lot of talk about "partying" and "ragers" which usually involves getting dangerously drunk and then suffering a hangover the following day. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Chicago Party Aunt is an animated show about a older party animal and her nephew that moves into her house after graduating from high school. The show is heavy on mature content. There are many sexual jokes, like when Aunt Diane offers her husband mutual oral sex after an argument, and one character walks in on another watching porn. We don't see (animated) nudity, but the jokes are bawdy and frequent. There are also jokes about and visual references to heavy drinking. Diane frequently throws and attends "ragers" at which guests guzzle liquor; we see characters vomiting after drinking too much, getting sloppy and unsteady on their feet, suffering hangovers. Diane also smokes marijuana and cigarettes frequently. Language is frequent, too: "f--k," "f--king," "ass," "s--t," "goddamn" as well as vulgar words for body parts ("tits," "dick") and profane insults, like when Diane calls her brother-in-law a "p---y" (meaning "coward"). Main characters are almost all White, but there is some diversity in terms of wealth and education; two prominent side characters are people of color who are also voiced by Black actors. A character who appears Asian is voiced by a White actor. Despite all the mature humor, the vibe of the show is sweet, and family members support each other through thick and thin; it's also notable that Diane is a middle-aged woman who's unapologetic about her unconventional lifestyle and accepts herself as she is. 

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What's the story?

CHICAGO PARTY AUNT Diane Dunbrowski (Lauren Ash) has been partying for decades, but as she slides into the second half of her life, things are starting to look a little less sparkling. The down-home hair salon she works at has been bought by urbane New Yorker Gideon (RuPaul Charles), who's turned it into an upscale barber shop. Her husband Kurt (Chris Witaske) leaves her once the partying has gotten old, and Diane's more responsible sister Bonnie (Jill Talley) keeps threatening to sell the condo Diane lives in. But the sisters find a new purpose when Bonnie's son Daniel (Rory O'Malley) decides to take off some time after high school to figure out what he really wants in life, and moves in with his aunt to work it out. If Diane can't provide him with an example (at least cautionary) of how to live life, who can?

Is it any good?

With a wisecrack-heavy style that leans into adult humor, this animated sitcom is easy to mistake for another Family Guy knockoff, but it has more heart than that. Based on the Twitter account of the same name created by former Chicagoan Chris Witsake, Chicago Party Aunt is at its core a good-natured satire of Chicago natives and adults who refuse to grow up. With respect to the former, get ready for a slew of Chi-town references, from Oprah to Uno Pizzeria to Mancow’s Morning Madhouse. On the latter tip, creators Witsake, Ike Barinholtz (who also plays Diane's easily squicked out brother-in-law, Mark), and Katie Rich (who also plays Diane's coworker Zuzana) keep the vibe soft-n-cuddly by emphasizing the bonds between Diane and her family. 

The central relationship is between Diane and nephew Daniel, who's getting an eyeful of a different kind of life once he moves in with his aunt: deep dish pizza and weeknight parties instead of quiet family dinners and lots of studying. It's a shift that could be ugly in a different show; a young man breaking bad instead of heading towards a bright future. Instead, Daniel's explorations are painted as self-actualizing. Diane's a profane wild woman out of control, true, but she's also deeply supportive of her nephew. "You're going to be aces, no matter where you end up," she tells him lovingly. Her lifestyle is unconventional, but Diane fully inhabits her life and enjoys every aspect of it, from work to friends to family. Despite her penchant for ragers and sailor talk, there are worse role models, and improbably, Chicago Party Aunt is rather sweet because of her. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about when jokes are helpful and when they can be harmful. Do you find this show's humor funny or offensive? Why do different people have different reactions to over-the-top humor?

  • What is the purpose of satire? Is this type of comedy all in good fun, or does it attempt to sway viewers' impressions of a particular cause or circumstance? Does this show have anything good to say about American society? What can we learn about a society through its media?

  • Families can also discuss why this show is animated. Does the animation help in the delivery of the comedy? How might its messages be interpreted differently if it was a live-action show? Does the animated style risk drawing viewers who are too young for its content? What steps are taken so that this doesn't happen?

TV details

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