Free Agents (U.K.)

 
Co-workers mix business and pleasure in salty Britcom.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While the characters find some solace from grief in their mutual affair, the overall tone is rather bleak and cynical when it comes to love and relationships. The office environment isn't any better in terms of modeling professionalism.

Positive role models

All characters are flawed in some way. Male characters, especially, talk openly and often crassly at work about their sexual activity, adopting behavior that's encouraged by the management. But while the main characters persist in their dysfunctional romantic relationship, they develop an oddly supportive friendship.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

The main characters are involved in a casual sexual relationship. There's simulated sex, but no nudity, coupled with crass talk and heavy use of sexual terms like "c--k," "c--t," "p---y," and "quim."

Language

Bleeped swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "c--k," etc.) and unbleeped words like "slut," "douchebag," and "dick," along with a slew of sexual euphemisms -- from "pink bits" to "t-t wank."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, at times to excess. Characters sometimes drink to numb their pain.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this darkly comic British import concerns a pair of co-workers who regularly sleep together but aren't in a committed relationship, in part to heal their pain after two crippling personal losses: death and divorce. While much of the strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," "c--k," "p---y," etc.) has been bleeped for American audiences, other salty talk and sexual euphemisms are left intact -- from "golden showers" to "pink bits" to "man meat." There's some social drinking and simulated sex, too, although no sensitive body parts are shown.

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What's the story?

While they sleep together regularly to ease the pain of life-altering personal losses, co-workers Alex (Stephen Mangan) and Helen (Sharon Horgan) are more or less FREE AGENTS and open to date anyone they choose. But their complicated "friendship" isn't always as free and easy as they'd like it to be. Meanwhile, their piggish boss (Anthony Head) runs their busy London talent agency like a lusty, boorish boys' club.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Whether you go with the toned-down American remake or stick with this salty original, Free Agents is a cynical comedy that, for most adults, will be an acquired taste. But if you're not prepared for the steady stream of sexual euphemisms and potty talk in the British version, it could even leave a bad taste in your mouth. After all, it's hard to keep comedy in mind when you're listening to someone rather casually describe a "10-minute t-t wank on the boardroom table," later followed by penetration "up the starfish with a jumbo-sized glue stick."

The casting and performances are just fine, and Mangan and Hogan play the central relationship with at least some sense that it could lead to something more meaningful. But the droll and decidedly British delivery of the material does little else to draw you in for the long haul.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's darkly comic portrayal of two serious topics: death and divorce. Is it easier to deal with loss when you can laugh about it? How do the two main characters cope with their personal losses? Are they dealing with loss in a generally healthy or unhealthy way?

  • What are the real-life consequences of having a sexual relationship with someone you work with? Why do some companies have policies in place that set limits on or even forbid office romances? How do the main characters' actions after hours affect their working relationship?

  • How does this series compare to the U.S. remake that it inspired? Can you spot any general differences between British and American humor? Which version of the show do you prefer?

TV details

Cast:Anthony Head, Sharon Horgan, Stephen Mangan
Network:BBC America
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-14

This review of Free Agents (U.K.) was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

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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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