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 Guys with Kids is a comedy featuring dads in the caregiver role for young children and includes plenty of body humor, often centering around diapers and potty training, as when one dad smells his infant's rear end to see whether he needs a change. One of the dads is newly divorced and dating; he sometimes uses his infant as a prop to attract women's attention. Married and/or dating couples may be shown kissing, flirting, and cuddling, both in bed and elsewhere at home. Characters are shown drinking in a bar with infants strapped to their bodies; other characters drink to tipsiness. The female characters on the show are often painted as less appealing than the males, and they try to disrupt the fun the dads on the show are having for minor, selfish reasons.
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What's the story?
The guys of GUYS WITH KIDS are three thirtysomethings who never planned to wind up as stay-at-home dads. Gary (Anthony Anderson) has four kids and a wife with a high-powered career; Nick (Zach Cregger) tries to get some computer programming in while chasing around his school-age daughter and infant son, and Chris (Jesse Bradford) shares custody of his baby boy with his brand new ex-wife. The three dads live in the same NYC apartment building and help each other out with dirty diapers and baby bottles, plus the bigger dilemmas of parenting, such as staying sane while beset by the wacky problems inherent in small child-raising.
Is it any good?
Parenthood, with its dignity-stealing pratfalls and absurd nonsense, is a rich source of humor. Unfortunately, Guys with Kids fails to find any of it. Jokes about diapers and potty training abound, and the show's creators seem to find the central conceit hysterical: It's dads taking care of kids! Not moms! Dads! Get it? Um, have you been to a playground in the last 15 years? There are plenty of dads out there cutting grapes in half and dispensing Band-Aids. Painting the show's premise as wacky and funny in itself just shows how out-of-touch the showrunners (one of whom is the usually funny, but childless, comedian Jimmy Fallon) really are.
It's too bad, really, because the cast is mostly charming. Anderson is wonderful even in terrible material, and he has genuine chemistry with his TV wife, The Cosby Show's Tempestt Bledsoe. The Sopranos' Jamie-Lynn Sigler is a welcome sight too, and she demonstrates crack comic timing. But the material she's given to work with, usually wifely nagging, is so weak that it's tragic. Oh, and one thing will drive parental watchers crazy: Though there are seven kids on the show, they seem to appear and disappear indiscriminately. Anderson is a SAHD with four kids, yet he's frequently out with just one or two of them. Where do the other ones go ... with his wife to work? Magic TV Kidland?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how realistic Guys with Kids is. Does the show ring true to your experiences? Do you think the people who created and wrote the show have children?
Guys with Kids centers around a trio of men taking on a nontraditional central role in childrearing. Do you know any stay-at-home dads? Do they act like the men on Guys with Kids? How are they like the characters, and how are they different? Do the moms on the show seem like moms you know?
All together, there are seven kids who belong to the three main cast members on Guys with Kids. Why don't you see them all onscreen most of the time? Is the children's absence realistic?
Which stereotypes are played out on this show? When are stereotypes funny, if ever?