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 this improvised sitcom is about criminals who live in a halfway house. Plots revolve around mature topics -- particularly sex and drug use. There are several scenes in which male characters attempt to masturbate in a variety of ways (with no skin visible). In another scene, a male character masturbates another male (again, nothing visible onscreen) whose face gets sweaty and smiley during the exchange. Some episodes include shots of bongs; in one, a character seems high after eating pizza that has been laced with marijuana. Some jokes deal with race, especially anti-white sentiments.
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What's the story?
In the improvised sitcom HALFWAY HOME, five unrepentant convicts live together in a halfway house, where they receive counseling and prepare to return to life outside the prison system. Kevin Ruf plays Kenny, the counselor who tries to guide the convicts back to the straight life with tough love and strict rules -- rules that he sometimes breaks himself. Kenny's constant companion is arsonist Alan (Regan Burns), who follows Kenny around like a puppy dog, repeating his therapy-speak lingo back to him verbatim in an overeager attempt to please. Other housemates include former prostitute Eulogio (Oscar Nunez), who uses sex to get what he wants; druggie Carly (Jessica Makinson), who happens to be a pogo-stick-jumping champion; Serenity (Octavia Spencer), a rotund street tough convicted of armed robbery; and Sebastian (Jordan Black) -- aka "C-Bass" -- a rich kid from suburban California who fronts like a Muslim terrorist.
Is it any good?
With its young, talented cast, Halfway Home successfully mines race, politics, pop culture, and stereotypes for edge-pushing humor. While it's not intellectual, the show plays cleverly with stereotypes and includes subtly witty touches (the hand lotion a character uses to masturbate is called "Hypnotique") -- as well as broader humor (who doesn't laugh at a good poop joke?) -- to create layers of comedy. But given the topics the show deals with, it's not clear sailing for tweens, but older teens should be able to handle the material. That said, parents may still want to preview before letting them tune in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about improvisational comedy. Do you like improv? What's appealing about it? Can you always tell when a comedian is improvising? How do you think comedians keep improvised scenes going so well? Did you know that improvisers follow certain rules to make their scenes funny? Would you like to try it? Families can also talk about envelope-pushing humor. What subjects are off limits to comedians? Who's responsible for deciding when "the line" is crossed? What's the purpose of politically or socially oriented humor?
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