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 Growing Up Fisher is a family comedy that hinges on humor derived from the father's blindness. The audience is constantly asked to laugh at the main character's disability. There is some smoking (the mom of the family uses an electronic cigarette and clutches a pipe in her mouth), some drinking, and mild cursing. Parents also can expect to see teenagers dating, flirting, and kissing, as well as some sexism disguised as humor.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Based on the real-life experiences of showrunner D.J. Nash and his disabled dad, GROWING UP FISHER centers on Henry Fisher (Eli Baker), an 11-year-old kid who has always considered his family normal, despite the fact that his father, Mel Fisher (J.K. Simmons), is blind and tries to keep his blindness hidden. By using a variety of tricks and leaning on the kindness of his family, including his wife Joyce (Jenna Elfman) and teenage daughter Katie (Ava Deluca-Verley), Mel made it all the way through law school and became a successful attorney. Henry even enjoyed being his father's guide. But now Joyce and Mel have decided to split up, Mel has a new apartment and a guide dog named Elvis, and Henry is stuck in the middle and trying to grow up all at the same time.
Is it any good?
J.K. Simmons has just got to be one of the most charming, guileless actors working today, and it's a real shame that this is the material he's given to work with. The idea of a sitcom built around a quirky guy determined not to let anything hold him back is a good one, and the fact that the premise is ripped from real life makes it even juicier. So, why, oh, why are we handed sub-Three's Company gags like Mel accidentally setting a big client check on fire at a restaurant? Subtlety! Try some! Some of the jokes land, but it's amid phony treacle and irritating frantic antics.
And another thing, Growing Up Fisher: you take on the same grown-up-main-character-wryly-narrating-his-adolescent-tales structure as The Wonder Years and The Goldbergs, yet in contrast to those two better shows, you're set in the present day. Are we to believe the narrator is narrating from The Future, in his rocket car, wearing silver space boots?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that Growing Up Fisher is based on the real life of the show's creator, D.J. Nash. Does the fact that Mel Fisher is based on a real character make him more interesting? More relatable? Funnier?
As with other TV shows such as The Wonder Years and The Goldbergs, Growing Up Fisher is narrated by one of its main characters, all grown up. However, the show is set in the present day. What year is the narrator narrating from? Do you find that unusual or odd?
Have you ever seen a divorced couple who are as chummy as the one in Growing Up Fisher? Does their relationship ring true to you? Does the age difference between husband and wife seem strange? Would it surprise you to know that actor J.K. Simmons is 17 years older than Jenna Elfman?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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