Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life TV Poster Image
Appealing actors in seen-it-before ensemble comedy.

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Kids say

age 18+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Friends are there for each other when the chips are down, a message somewhat routed by the fact that women are generally objects of lust or disgust rather than actual compatriots. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cooper Barrett is a hardworking and generally responsible young man but seems to regard getting drunk and womanizing as amusing. 

Violence

Slapstick, played for laughs: One man slaps another; toughs tie up a man and subject him to buckets of cold water and taunts. 

Sex

References to and jokes about sex, masturbation, pornography. A man appears on-screen nude (no private parts are seen). A man kisses a woman as she protests "No!"  

Language

Cursing: "ass," "hell," "damn," "jackass," "ass-face." Jokes about tampons and yeast infections. Sexist language: One man says that he's so ugly his wife will no doubt have a mustache. 

Consumerism

Brands and product names are mentioned: Guitar Hero, The Book Thief. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Of-age characters drink at a party; no one acts drunk. Characters pop (unnamed) pills at a party, and scenes of decadence ensue. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life is a comedy about 20-somethings trying to figure out their lives. It contains some party scenes that include drinking and main characters taking an unnamed blue pill, after which decadence ensues. Hangovers are made to look amusing; characters drink beer at games and dinners. Cursing includes "hell," "damn," and many variations of "ass," including "ass-face" and "jackass." Expect jokes about and references to sex and pornography, and a man appears naked on-screen (no private parts are shown). The group of buddies is male-only; women are either viewed with lust or disgust and frequently mocked for their looks. Friends treat each other with kindness but mock each other as well. Characters commit minor crimes (such as theft), which are played for laughs. 

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What's the story?

In the ensemble comedy COOPER BARRETT'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING LIFE, Cooper Barrett (Jack Cutmore-Scott) is a recent college graduate who's trying to figure out where his life will go next. Meanwhile, he's having a great time palling around with roommates, Neal (Charlie Saxton) and Barry (James Earl); his cute neighbor, Kelly (Meaghan Rath); and his doting-yet-jealous brother, Josh (Justin Bartha), who escapes from his wife and two kids at Cooper's place. Cooper doesn't know where he's going to work, what he's going to do, or where he's going to end up. But he's having fun, he has friends, and he's slowly finding his way to manhood. 

Is it any good?

Too familiar to be truly amusing, this show coasts along on the charm of its leads, but viewers may wish they were given fresher plot lines and dialogue. In the show's pilot, Barrett and crew celebrate graduating college, which leads to a blowout party, which leads to (you guessed it) hijinks! Hijinks that wind up paying off in mayhem that winds up bringing the crew together. If you think you may have seen this plot before, you're right. The Hangover jumps to mind, as do any number of episodes of Friends or How I Met Your Mother. It's a real pity, because each and every one of the actors cast in this retread are charming and adorable; if only they were given real situations to react to instead of over-the-top TV-comedy plot lines.

It's also extraordinarily tiresome that Barrett is given a hot neighbor (via a meet-cute vignette, naturally) who's clearly supposed to be the one sympathetic female character in a cast laden with manboys. Alas, all she's given in the name of characterization is that she likes to curse, dates older men, and doesn't want to date our hero because he's not mature enough. This comedy may appeal to teens, and it's mild enough for older ones, though parents may want to watch along to counter any sexist or otherwise iffy messages. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why groups of 20-something friends are so often the focus of TV comedies. What is it about this age that's particularly amusing? Why do writers like to tell stories about this age? 

  • The actor who plays Cooper Barrett is English, doing an American accent. Can you tell? Does it matter? Which actors can you name who use different accents in their roles? 

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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