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 Dads is a multi-camera sitcom created by the frequently profane Seth MacFarlane. The show is rife with jokes that mock ethnic and religious groups, as well as the elderly, gay people, and women. Many parents will find these jokes extremely offensive and unfunny, as well as inappropriate for young children, tweens, and possibly teens as well. If you must watch, do it after the kids are in bed, or watch only with older, very sophisticated teens willing to discuss what they've seen after the credits roll so parents can address the many hurtful stereotypes.
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What's the story?
From the same comic minds who brought you Ted, DADS focuses on two thirtysomething pals: Warner (Giovanni Ribisi) and Eli (Seth Green), who run a successful video game company, but who are less successful in their personal lives. Both of them have overinvolved fathers who live with them. David (Peter Riegert) has lost all his money and his condo, while Crawford (Martin Mull) has moved in with his son, his wife Camilla (Vanessa Minnillo Lachey), and two small kids. Now Eli and Warner have to keep their business chugging along and their family and dating lives on track, which would be simple without the bumbling influence of their DADS.
Is it any good?
Oh dear, does the talented cast of Dads deserve better material to work with. For every joke that lands, such as when the always charming Seth-Green-as-Eli asks a video game voice actor to try reading a line again with "a more wizardlike quality," there is a joke that will make most wince, such as when Eli demonstrates to a female employee how he wants her to cover her mouth and giggle when she dresses up as a "sexy Asian schoolgirl" for a pair of Chinese clients. Said clients later send the female employee a picture of his "tiny China penis" and the whole cast bonds by gathering around the computer and offering up deeply unfunny jokes about said penis: "It looks like something you'd pick out of a salad," says David, while Crawford offers "I see an inchworm in a little tiny fireman's hat."
Worst of all, unlike other shows that offer up less cringeworthy racist/sexist/homophobic/ageist humor, none of the characters onscreen object to the jokes. Veronica, the character who dresses up as Sailor Moon in Dads' pilot, makes a joke about her (presumably Asian) dad beating her "with a math book." Ha ha, racist jokes about Asian people are funny, you see, because she's Asian. That makes it okay! Not so much. All in the Family made that old racist Archie Bunker acceptable because everyone else onscreen argued with his offensive tirades. Having the characters on Dads not just accepting the casual racism and sexism, but also playing along with it, renders this show positively painful to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Dads is funny. Is it ever OK to use stereotypes for the sake of humor? Do you think the actors saying the lines in this sitcom seem comfortable?
The showrunners behind Dads were asked by an Asian advocacy group to reshoot the show's pilot because it contained so many jokes offensive to Asian people. Showrunners refused. Does this change your feeling about the show? Why or why not?
What type of people do you think writes Dads? Old, young? Rich, poor? Male or female? What race do you think most of the writers are? What brings you to this conclusion?