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 Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove is a gentle romance set in a small lakeside town that's suitable for all ages but might not interest younger viewers. Romance runs throughout, though most of the goings-on are innocent and sweet rather than passionate and tumultuous. Still, there is plenty of flirting and dating and some kissing, plus a proposal, an estranged couple who decide to give their marriage another shot, and a philandering bad guy who gets his comeuppance. Language is similarly squeaky-clean, with just one "damn" in the series' pilot. Several scenes are set in a bar, though no one ever acts drunk, but one character is managing sobriety, so this concept is discussed.
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What's the story?
In the delightful lakeside town in DEBBIE MACOMBER'S CEDAR COVE, Judge Olivia Lockhart (Andie MacDowell) dispenses justice from the bench. Or, at least she would, if annoying Cedar Cove Chronicle reporter/mysterious new hottie in town Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal) would stop sniffing around for a story after he saw her delay divorce proceedings between Cecilia and Ian, a married couple who lost a daughter but haven't fallen out of love. You see, Olivia's been offered a big promotion in the big city, and she's thinking about taking it despite the fact that that would mean leaving her mother and daughter Justine, who's on the verge of getting engaged to a creepy, duplicitous land developer. Plus, Olivia's in love with her tiny town, its quirky people and its small town parades and annual seagull-calling contest...and she's starting to have feelings for Jack.
Is it any good?
In classic Hallmark Channel style, this mild romance series is as gentle and inoffensive as a kiss on the cheek from Grandma. Andie MacDowell looks as great as ever and brings snap and spark to the role of Olivia, who could have been treacle-y in less capable hands. She's the pleasantly tart anchor that keeps all the determinedly adorable townspeople and their many eccentricities from being way too precious.
As it is, Olivia and the rest wind up being lovable and easy to watch. Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove doesn't challenge the intellect or emotions, they're pleasant and cheerful, just like the book series from which the series is adapted. If the romance shelf at the library holds great appeal to you, this will too. Don't expect younger viewers to really want to watch along, but neither will they be disturbed by anything they happen to see.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove is a realistic portrait of small-town life. Are the people of small towns really so picturesque and charming? Or is that what people who live in big cities like to think?
Most of the main characters of Cedar Cove are middle aged and older. Teens: Do you enjoy watching older people onscreen? Do you appreciate seeing their romantic goings-on? Why or why not?
Is the viewer supposed to like Olivia Lockhart? What about Jack Griffith? How are they dressed, lit and otherwise presented? What about the villians of the show, such as Justine's friend Warren. Are we supposed to like him? How is he presented differently from Olivia and Jack?
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