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 mature comedy series casts a cynical light on mental health professionals. The central character is a therapist who often tries to create turmoil in her patients' lives (insisting to one that he has unresolved homosexual tendencies, for example) and is harshly judgmental of them behind their backs (describing them to others as "f--ked up," etc.). References to sexuality are common -- in one scene, for example, the therapist uses two male dolls to simulate various sexual positions (the goal being to gauge a patient's emotional response to homosexuality). There's also plenty of cursing and some drinking.
What's the story?
In HEAD CASE, therapist-to-the-stars Dr. Goode (Alexandra Wentworth) offers her unique brand of advice to celebs like Jane Kaczmarek, Jason Priestly, and Sean Hayes. Filmed like a reality show, the series is actually fully scripted, and the guest patients are willing subjects for the good-natured fun being poked at them. Anything and everything from their private lives (including rumors ripped from tabloid headlines) are up for grabs in Dr. Goode's "safe haven" of an office; it's here, for example, that newly married Priestly begins to question his own sexuality, rehab regular Andy Dick loses control when the doctor refuses to give him a prescription to help him stay "grounded," and youthful-looking but middle-aged Ralph Macchio must explain why he believes he's old enough to have sex. As if the stars didn't have enough to worry about within Dr. Goode's office walls, they also fall victim to the prying eyes of her gossipy secretary, Lola (Michelle Arthur), who pops in on sessions for autographs and pictures, and to neighboring shrink Dr. Myron Finkelstein (Steve Landesberg), who hovers in the waiting room to drum up business for his own withering practice.
Is it any good?
Whether Dr. Goode's patients actually benefit from her input is up for interpretation: Many leave her office more muddled than when they got there, and she's often unwilling to believe that they may know more about their inner feelings than she does. But with its smart writing and guilty-pleasure storylines, Head Case is fun for audiences mature enough to handle its frequent sexual references and uncensored cursing. Little of the content will likely be new to teens, but check it out before giving them the OK.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media portrays mental health problems. Do you think issues like depression and anxiety are treated sympathetically or judgmentally? Are they viewed as weaknesses? How does their treatment compare to society and the media's reaction to physical ailments? Families can also discuss how to deal with mental health issues. Teens: Who do you turn to when you need to talk about your problems? How does opening up to someone help you work things out?