Extras

 
(i)

 

Office mate mines showbiz for laughs.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The characters are all very flawed -- which is what makes them funny. Andy is often selfish, rude, and self-promoting, though he does care about his friends (Maggie, anyway) when it comes down to it. The show purposely sets up painfully awkward situations for laughs -- making fun of someone who's physically disabled, for instance, or blundering into a discussion of racism. Celebrity guest stars seem delighted to act against type; Winslet cheerfully talks about playing a "mental" as a surefire way to win an Oscar, while Stewart is a gleeful lech, Orlando Bloom makes fun of his pretty-boy reputation, and so on.

Violence

Very little; some war/battle scenes, but they're within the context of the movies or TV shows that Andy is appearing in, so they're clearly fake. Occasional silly/slapstick situations and exchanges of angry words.

Sex

Not much is actually shown, but plenty is talked about. In one memorable episode, Kate Winslet gives advice on how to talk dirty for phone sex ("put your Willy Wonka between my Oompa Loompas"); in another, Patrick Stewart comes off as obsessed with female nudity. Characters date and have casual sex (but again, little is shown).

Language

This is no Deadwood, but there's plenty of casual, unfiltered swearing. "F--k," "ass," "bastard," "t--s," etc., plus British cursing/slang like "bloody" and "wanking."

Consumerism

Guest stars are their own brands, but other than that, not much of note.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Casual drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this British series comes from the folks behind the original version of The Office. And although this show's setting and characters are very different, the general flavor of the humor remains the same, relying on awkward pauses and mortifying faux pas for laughs. Main character Andy is often selfish and self-serving, and issues like racism and physical disability are used for joke fodder (which mature folks will understand as ironic, but which the younger set may misinterpret). Characters swear casually and frequently (though this is no Deadwood), drink and smoke, and talk about sex (though very little of the latter is actually shown). Recognizable Hollywood stars guest-star as themselves, gleefully mocking their public personas.

What's the story?

EXTRAS (a co-production of HBO and the BBC) follows Andy Millman's (Ricky Gervais) misadventures in showbiz. A bit player who spends more time sitting around shooting the breeze with his friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen) than he does in front of the camera, Andy is angling for his big break -- which he's probably going to have to get on his own, since his clueless agent, Darren Lamb (Office co-creator Stephen Merchant), is no help at all. So whenever he gets the chance between takes, Andy hits up big-name stars for lines in their movies, help getting his sitcom script distributed, or whatever other favor he can think of. That these celebrities play themselves -- usually with a self-mocking twist -- is one of the series' key gimmicks. Particularly memorable guest-star turns include Kate Winslet candidly advising Maggie on phone sex, Patrick Stewart enthusiastically describing his nudity-heavy script to Andy, and Orlando Bloom sending up his own pretty-boy reputation.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The meat and potatoes of Extras are the socially awkward moments that Andy and Maggie are constantly stumbling into, usually by accident (as when they unknowingly mock a woman with cerebral palsy), but always with a maximum of embarrassment. No subject is taboo, from racism to disability, and the characters often do rude, selfish things (Andy berating and belittling a lonely man who wants to have dinner with him, for instance) in the name of comedy. This brand of painful humor certainly isn't for everyone, and Extras' colorful language and adult situations rule it out for kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether they find this kind of purposely cringe-inducing humor funny. What's the point of this kind of comedy? Is it more realistic/telling than traditional sitcom humor? How is this series like The Office? How is it different? Why do you think the guest stars wanted to participate? Do you think the show's versions of these people are any more accurate than their "regular" public personas? Also, is it OK to do and say things that are generally considered offensive in the name of comedy? When would you say TV writers have crossed the line? Is that line different for cable and network shows? Should it be?

TV details

Cast:Ashley Jensen, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant
Network:HBO
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD

This review of Extras was written by

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Quality

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written bytjkeeley6 April 9, 2008
 

Ricky Gervais is the funniest man alive!

Forget Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler or any other talentless comedian. Ricky Gervais does it all. He writes, directs and stars in this brilliant, but unfortunately short comedy following his THE OFFICE success. The show flawlessly blends a plethora of emotions and dines on situational comedy. It mocks stereotypes and beats up on egos. Each episode contains a cameo from a celebrity (Ian McKellan, Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, etc.) and the all brilliantly blow your mind in characters as you have never before seen them, even poking fun at themselves sometimes. If all comedy were like this, I would forever be glued to the TV. God bless the British.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Teen, 14 years old Written byBrando804 February 15, 2010
 

very very, smart, funny, inventive, original comedy! bravo!

this is really a wonderfully crafted, very funny show from master Ricky Gervais. The sad thing is that it won't be coming back for another season. I have all episodes of this show and the special. This show is especially good if you love movies (like me). Very funny with not much bad content (unlike most stuff today.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages

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