How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) TV Poster Image
Great cast and funny dialogue in coarse family comedy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Family unity is stressed on the show, and the family members love and care for one another, though plenty of irresponsible behavior is on display.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Polly's parents are frequently criticized for their actions and personalities, they are comfortable with themselves, which sends a powerful message that people can enjoy themselves and their lives at any age. Polly is separated from her husband and is doing the best she can to raise her daughter. Some characters make iffy decisions about drinking, etc., but consequences are usually appropriate.


Many explicit references to sex, including a woman who claims she's "very proud of her orgasms," and says she had sex with every man (and one woman) in her improv class. There are also references to orgies, jokes about testicular cancer, and sounds that the viewer assumes are lovemaking (but which turn out to be weight-lifting).


Some cursing: "Those bastards!" Bleeped cursing is also used for comic effect, with characters letting loose as the viewer hears lots of bleeping and the actors' mouths are blurred.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes take place in bars, with characters ordering cocktails; one character questions whether drinking is a good idea since he'd taken a prescription medication to calm down. That character is then seen staggering and threatening to vomit. The grandmother character drinks frequently, but doesn't seem drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) is a sitcom about a non-traditional family situation with a lot of coarse sex-and-drugs humor. The show's grandmother figure is presented as a free spirit with a licentious past that is discussed frequently; she also makes many references to drugs and alcohol and enthusiastically drinks onscreen (though doesn't get drunk). One character survived testicular cancer, and there are many jokes about "taking his ball" and missing balls. Despite the many off-color jokes, the show revolves around a loving, supportive family and wouldn't be the worst things kids could see on TV, though parents will want to watch with them to counter any iffy messages.

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What's the story?

Fed up with her husband's irresponsible ways, Polly (Sarah Chalke) takes her young daughter and moves back in with her free-spirited and sensual mother, Elaine (Elizabeth Perkins) and irascible-yet-loving stepdad Max (Brad Garrett) on HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS (FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE). Comic madcappery ensues, both at home and at Polly's place of business, a smoothie counter at a Whole Foods-like store, as Polly attempts to fend off her clinging ex, jump-start her dating life, navigate her parental duties, and make peace with the fact that she's living with her bad-influence parents yet trying to provide her daughter with a moral compass.

Is it any good?

How to Live with Your Parents so clearly wants to be Modern Family, and it does share some of the same DNA: Veteran actors (it's great to see Elizabeth Perkins again!), a mix of funny and heart, snappy comic lines: "It was great to hear about your orgies," Polly ironically complains to her mom. "Oh, orgy, please, it was some half-hearted groping and then we ate a wheel of brie," Perkins breezes.

Unfortunately, also like Modern Family (particularly in later seasons), How to Live inserts a lot of wacky hijinks into the goings on, such as having Polly's ex drop by when she's on a date and then forgetting to put the brakes on his car, which rolls into a ditch. It doesn't work. If a show is going to have hijinks, it has to also give up on the idea of making us misty-eyed. Think Arrested Development, which never went for schmaltz. If How to Live wants the audience on-board for tender moments, it'd be wise to cut down on the sitcom-style over-the-topness. But with a great cast equipped with sharp dialogue, How to Live has potential.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about comedy on TV. Does How to Live with Your Parents remind you of any other shows? Which ones? How is How to Live different? Which sitcoms are the funniest? What makes for funny TV?

  • Do the characters on How to Live with Your Parents act like real people? What things do they do that people would not do in real life? Does it make the show funnier, or less funny?

  • Is the viewer supposed to like Polly and her parents? What about their dialogue, costumes, camera angles, etc. give you this idea? What kind of music or sound effects play when these characters are onscreen?

TV details

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