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 show focuses on the importance of friends and family, despite their flaws and imperfect natures. It also highlights the idea that humor can be found in even the most ordinary situations, if we choose to see it. Parents should also know that later episodes of the series (those filmed after star Ellen DeGeneres came out in real life) focus on homosexuality and same-sex relationships.
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What's the story?
Based on the stand-up comedy of Ellen DeGeneres, ELLEN centers on Ellen Morgan (DeGeneres), a quirky, single, thirtysomething, vegetarian, animal-loving bookstore owner living in Los Angeles who deals with the everyday trials and tribulations of life by keeping a positive attitude, maintaining her sense of humor, and rambling excessively. With the help of her roommate, photographer Adam Green (Arye Gross); her narcissistic, social-climbing high school friend Paige Clark (Joely Fisher); annoying but loveable co-book store employee Audrey Penney (Clea Lewis); and Canadian coffee server Joe Farrell (David Anthony Higgins), Ellen's daily activities turn into absurd situations. In later seasons cousin Spence Kovak (Jeremy Piven) moves in, adding to both Ellen's circle of friends and her zany adventures. The pressure that Ellen's parents Lois (Alice Hirson) and Harold (Steven Gilborn) put on her to get married and "settled down" leads to painfully awkward dating scenarios, but much of this awkwardness is explained away after Ellen's groundbreaking announcement in Season 4 that she's a lesbian.
Is it any good?
While's Ellen's coming out made TV history and opened the door for other openly gay characters to appear on mainstream television, Ellen Morgan's coming out led the series away from poking fun at the mundane to addressing serious issues surrounding sexual orientation and same-sex relationships. Regardless of this shift, Ellen is never salacious in nature and remains a funny ensemble series that reminds viewrs that even the most ordinary activities can become hilarious if we let ourselves laugh.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of having a positive attitude in even the worst situations. How can your attitude impact the way you cope with awkward or difficult situations? When is and isn't it appropriate to use humor as a way to diffuse difficult situations? Families may also want to discuss sexual orientation and the challenges people face when coming to terms with their own sexuality.
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