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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Everwood addresses mature themes: cancer, depression, parent-child clashes, homosexuality, unwanted pregnancy, peer pressure, suicide, and teen sex. Because several of the characters are doctors, expect to see medical drama -- health emergencies, sudden accidents (with the occasional small amount of blood but no gore), deathly ill patients who need a surgery that just might work. A major early plotline involves the death of a character; a later one takes on suicide, and we see the boy who took a whole bottle of sleeping pills unconscious on the floor (he survives). Several teens lose their virginity over the course of the series; the sex is shown by a couple kissing in bed then a cut to them in bed under sheets, talking about what just happened. One character in particular is a bit of a womanizer; he faces consequences for sleeping with women carelessly. The show flirts with sexual assault in one episode when a villainous character doses a girl with date-rape-drug GHB at a party; he overdoses himself before he can do anything even more. Teens drink at parties, and sneak into bars using fake ID. Cursing is mild and occasional: "hell," "damn," "ass," characters may say things "suck" or are "B.S."
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What's the story?
Dr. Andy Brown (Treat Williams), his teenage son Ephram (Gregory Smith), and preteen daughter Delia (Vivien Cardone) are just learning how to be a family. Andy was formerly an inattentive father, mostly absent from his children's lives until their mother's death. Now he's trying to get to know them. Ephram is a gifted pianist and somewhat of an outcast in the small mountain town the Browns have moved to. He was miserable at first, but a close friendship with Amy Abbot (Emily VanCamp), the daughter of the town's only other doctor, plus breakthroughs in his strained relationship with his own dad, keep him sticking around. Meanwhile, as Delia starts to grow out of her tomboy years, she poses greater and greater challenges to her inexperienced father.
Is it any good?
Like long-running WB family drama 7th Heaven, EVERWOOD tries hard to involve adults and kids alike and tackles some heavy subjects. Both series recognize that today's kids aren't spared from tragedy and difficult decisions. But Everwood has proven to be the richer series, with characters who aren't so perfect, and actors who can give them dimension. Each character is flawed -- and all strive to become better people, sometimes failing. Viewers will appreciate that the series depicts sibling relationships in an especially positive light.
Little kids won't find much of interest in Everwood, nor is the show meant for them. Situations are teen- and adult-oriented and deliberately controversial. The young characters have some problems, but overall they're wholesome, smart, caring role models. Coping with death is a major theme of the show; particularly in the earlier seasons. Families who have lost loved ones may benefit from talking about how characters on the show work through painful emotions. As the show's teen characters age through the seasons, so do their dilemmas -- sex, suicide, substance abuse are all taken on, and romance plays a big part in the drama, with characters meeting, cheating, breaking up, getting back together. It's a bit sudsy, but gentle enough for tweens and teens to watch alone or with parents, who may take particular pleasure in pointing out out the way things used to be. See! People used to wear watches! Hey, look at that flip-phone! Teens may also be more apt to watch if parents explain that Everwood's creator, Greg Berlanti, is also the guy who created the Arrow-verse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the serious and sometimes controversial topics addressed on the show. Ephram and Andy's relationship has never been harmonious. How might they work together to improve their father/son bond? Amy and Rose have had trouble in their relationship. How might a disease as serious as cancer affect a patient's interactions with family members? How does loss affect individuals, and how do these effects radiate out to the people in their lives?
How do the members of the Brown family use communication to solve problems with each other and other people in Everwood? How does courage play a part in their learning how to fit into a new town and new relationships? Why are these important character strengths?
Dramas that air on network television can be less "mature" than those that air on cable. Do you notice the difference when watching a show like Everwood? What is toned down? Do you miss these aspects of cable shows when watching a network TV show? Have the standards of what it's okay to say or do on network television changed since Everwood began airing in 2003?
Find more TV shows that help kids build character.
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