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 this mature, video game-centric animated series features characters using marijuana and engaging in other risqué behaviors. There's strong sexual innuendo, including visual references to sadomasochism and partially clothed characters shown in sexually suggestive positions (though there's no actual nudity). Language includes words like "hell" and "p---y" (stronger words are bleeped), as well as racial/ethnic terms and stereotypes (for example, one character is called "Black Steve") and occasional iffy references to religion. While the animation may appeal to younger viewers, the show isn't intended for tweens and is even an iffy choice for teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Animated comedy CODE MONKEYS follows the misadventures of Jerry (voiced by Matt Mariska) and Dave (Adam de la Pena), two programmers who work for the fictitious 1980s video game company GameAVision. Along with their eccentric coworkers -- including fellow programmer Mary (Gretchen McNeil), receptionist Clare (Suzanne Keilly), game designer Todd Friedman (Dana Snyder), and other members of the GameAVision team -- they struggle to survive their new boss, Mr. Larrity, a womanizing Texas billionaire with no knowledge of computers, and his rather dimwitted son Dean (both voiced by Andrew Sipes).
Is it any good?
The show stands out from other mature animated series in that it's created to actually look like the early arcade-style video games of the '80s. Guided by Jerry and Dave, the gang often embarks on adventures that bear striking similarities to the games of that era, which required players to solve clues, search through mazes, and fight mysterious enemies. But while the series' concept is unique, its thin plotlines offer very little outside of drug references, crude sexual innuendo, and bathroom humor. As a result, the games this crew plays are usually intended to locate things like drugs, alcohol, and other guilty pleasures.
While Code Monkeys does refer to some of the issues surrounding the video game industry in the '80s, the way it presents them isn't particularly thoughtful. It brings up concerns about games' potential negative impact on people -- but these references are usually offered only as a source of dark, often disparaging humor and are usually highlighted by the characters' negative behavior and racially motivated stereotypes that were common during the '80s. The jokes may draw some smiles from those who remember the decade, but it's definitely not for tweens. And despite its TV-14 rating, it makes for some iffy teen viewing, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether cartoons need strong plotlines to be funny. Are crude jokes and references to inappropriate behavior enough to make a show worth watching? Why or why not? Families can also discuss how video games have changed since the 1980s. What are some of the major differences between video games then and now? Do you think the concerns about the impact of video games on kids during that era are the same today? What new issues have come up in more recent years?