EastSiders

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
EastSiders TV Poster Image
Lots of sex, drinking in soapy LA-set LGBTQ comedy.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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

Positive Messages

The 20-something cast of this show has good intentions but they often mistreat each other and bury their problems with sex and drugs. Gay characters are accepted by all, including themselves. Some scenes are in questionable taste, like when a man at a party dresses like a "Mayan," wearing CDs as earrings, a nose ring, a crazy wig, and robes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are complicated, and a mix of good and bad. Cal is whiny and demanding, yet also supportive of friends and loved ones; Thom is duplicitous yet ambitious and talented. They do spend time reflecting on their actions, like when Jeremy talks about how hard he tries to be a good person. 

Violence

No actual physical violence, but jokes sometimes circle around violent and/or controversial topics, including abortion. In another scene, a partygoer says that a small Bible can be used to "bludgeon a homosexual." 

Sex

Expect same- and opposite-sex kissing, like when one man pounces on another and the camera cuts away; afterward, we see the two cuddling in their underwear. There's nonsexual near-nudity, like when Kathy uses a toilet with the door open (we don't hear any noises, and her clothing covers up her private parts). 

Language

Cursing and language includes "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "piss," "crap," "poop."  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink socially and sometimes heavily, like when a main character walks into a bar and orders a double whiskey with a beer (later he vomits and makes a fool of himself at a party). A man says that a drink "might help" with a difficult emotional situation, and asks for a drink immediately upon entering a stranger's house, declaring "I'm not an alcoholic." Two distressed friends set out to get drunk and drink large glasses of straight whiskey, then take Ambien that's prescribed to someone else. One character does make a point of saying she's walking home after that imbibing, but says she does "this all the time" (i.e., drinks and takes prescription drugs illicitly). Characters share joints. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that EastSiders is a dark comedy about a group of friends in Los Angeles, including squabbling boyfriends Thom (Van Hansis) and Cal (Kit Williamson). Everyone on the show is an adult, but they drink heavily, frequently setting out to get drunk, and then sometimes combining the alcohol with marijuana or pills (Ambien is mentioned by name). Characters deal with their emotions by drinking. Expect to see same- and opposite-sex kissing, frequently passionate, and in a variety of locations: in a loft, up against a wall, in a bed, etc. We also see characters lounging around together in their underwear, presumably after sex. Cursing is frequent, with many uses of the word "f--k" as well as  "motherf----r," "bulls--t," "s--t," and "a--hole." Gay characters accept themselves, and are accepted by their parents and friends. 

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What's the story?

EASTSIDERS Cal, Thom, Kathy (Constance Wu), and Ian (John Halbach) semi-aimlessly bounce around Silver Lake, Los Angeles, in this comedy, originally a web series before it was snapped up by Netflix. The action picks up when self-described "frigid shrew" Cal finds out that his boyfriend of four years, aspiring writer Thom, has been cheating on him with Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon) -- which ultimately reveals the fractures in Cal and Thom's relationship and sends both stumbling into new romantic complications. Meanwhile, Cal's best friend Kathy is disturbed by what she sees as a proposal from her boyfriend of six months, Ian, and a curve ball that life throws her soon after. Pour a tall glass of whiskey: This is the modern gay soap opera you've been waiting for. 

Is it any good?

Lusty, quippy, and frequently bored out of their minds, the LA hipsters who inhabit the world of this meandering, enjoyable series are intriguingly imperfect. They cheat, they lie, they sneak around, and in between they lounge around in various living rooms gossiping about all of it with a tall glass of straight whiskey and maybe an Ambien or two. Thom, Cal, and the rest would be hateable if they weren't so funny -- they do twee, charming things like going to End of the World parties or standing underneath a street lamp eating ice cream out of a Chinese takeout container. Kathy, though, has an irritating attention-seeking vibe that's particularly hard to take.

However, the great gags in EastSiders will make you reconsider bailing. "If I give up on this relationship, Chick-fil-A wins," says Cal about his foundering partnership with Thom. Quincy (Stephen Guarino) brags about his oversized jewelry at a party: "My earrings are made out of the Rent musical, deluxe edition." Even when life events take a more serious turn, everything is processed in wry, smart conversation. The cast has charm, they sound and act like real people (even if most of them could pass for runway models), and it's fun to hang out for a while in their small slice of sunny gay LA. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this former web series came to be on Netflix. What is appealing or unusual about EastSiders that would compel Netflix to put it on their feed? Have you seen other shows like it? How are they the same or different? 

  • How do the characters in EastSiders learn and demonstrate empathy and communication? Why are those important character strengths?

  • The "eastside" in this show's title refers to a section of Los Angeles that includes hip neighborhoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake, where this show is set. How would this show be different if it were set in a different part of Los Angeles, like Hollywood? What about in a different town? How does Silver Lake provide a sense of place and contribute to this show?  

TV details

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