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 Future Man is a comedy about a video gamer who winds up being recruited for a future apocalyptic battle. It is produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the minds behind raunchy movies like This Is the End and Pineapple Express, so expect lots of language and sophomoric (but sometimes very funny) humor about sex, drugs, and other mature topics. Violence is frequently played for laughs but is still intense: faceless thugs are shot and killed with futuristic laser weapons; in hand-to-hand combat, characters are stabbed as they shriek in agony. Sexual content is frequent and rude, like when we see a man lowering his pants and moving one hand rhythmically before he accidentally ejaculates on another man's leg. Language often includes a sexual connotation ("spank it," "d--k," "cum"), and there are jokes about oral sex, sex with video game characters, and other odd and absurd scenarios. Other cursing, including "f--k" and "s--t" is frequent. Parents of a 20-something man are regular pot smokers and refer to and joke about it. Women and people of color have strong, central roles, and parents are present and supportive.
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What's the story?
By day, Josh Futturman (Josh Hutcherson) is a janitor at a herpes research facility who lives in his parents' house and doesn't have a lot going on. But when he's alone in his bedroom, Josh is FUTURE MAN, the only known person to have triumphed over an "unbeatable" video game. But that game's not just a game -- it's a simulation device that the last vestiges of humankind use in the future to train themselves to battle against the unkillable "biotics." And so Tiger (Eliza Coupe) and her lieutenant, Wolf (Derek Wilson), have traveled back in time to recruit the man then think is the Savior to their ragtag army, and have found only goofball Josh. He's all they have -- and if he's not enough, humankind is doomed.
Is it any good?
This show boasts a talented cast and lively, funny writing, but it was originally pitched as a feature film, and it shows in that the plot feels a bit stretched. Plot contrivances that could have been done away with in moments or seconds of screen time -- like Tiger and Wolf arriving to alert Josh of his mission from the future -- are expanded to a whole episode, to the show's detriment. At one point, the show gets caught in a Groundhog Day-style repeat, not because it serves the show stylistically or functions as a metaphor, but because we needed to stall.
That said, if you're not particularly in a hurry or are particularly amused by Back to the Future callbacks or jokes about wayward ejaculate, Future Man can be a lot of fun. "Do you have any useful skills at all?" an exasperated Tiger asks Josh after he falters in a fight. "I'm good at word jumbles," he tells her. "And Sudoku." Tiger and Wolf reacting to old-timey life is pretty amusing, too. "They have so much food, it's literally hanging from the walls," wonders Wolf at a deli, stuffing pickles in his mouth. In the future, he tells Josh, people eat garbage and rats. But in our present, we have food to spare, and a show about a possible apocalypse to watch from our comfy couch. Things could be worse.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Future Man might appeal to younger viewers -- and if they should watch it. Are the levels of sex, language, and violence too much for young kids? Does a video game setting attract them? Is it intended to?
How violent is this show? How much gore is shown? What effect does it have? Is it funny? Shocking? Why do you think violence on TV often makes us laugh, when the same thing happening in real life would be terrifying?
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