TV review by
Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media
Huff TV Poster Image
Edgy, smart drama with stellar cast; adults only.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Most characters are in deepening psychological trouble; how they deal with it is a provocative theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters try to cope, but turn to drugs, unhealthy relationships, etc. when things get tough. 


Bloody suicide; homicidal attacks by psychotic patients; fistfights.


Sex, which takes place frequently, is depicted both as healthy intimacy and indulgent debauchery.


Foul mouths run rampant ("motherf---er," "c--t," "ass-wipe," ethnic slurs, more).


A major theme is that money doesn't buy happiness.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs (of all kinds) and drinking (a lot of it) in every episode.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Huff is edgy and interesting, but not for kids. The characters are all experiencing deep traumas: mental illness, addictions, marriage gone awry, cancer, suicide, human euthanasia, you name it. A major ongoing theme involves how people cope (or don't cope) with their personal pain. Some characters use prescribed drugs, while others use street drugs; some drink socially, while others drink to anesthetize themselves; some rely on healthy intimate relationships, while others have dangerously random encounters; some "dialogue" endlessly, while others won't; and some reach for help, while others fend it off.

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What's the story?

HUFF's Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt (Hank Azaria) is a great guy and a successful psychiatrist who was living a wonderful life until, in the series premiere, a 15-year-old patient killed himself in Huff's office. In the aftermath, Huff sees himself as a caregiver, but finds that he can't save everyone -- or maybe even anyone, including himself. Huff's best friend, Russell Tupper (Oliver Platt), provides counterpoint to Huff: Bed-hopping, drugs, and drinking are Russell's hobbies, and he is verbally abusive to his no-nonsense assistant. Meanwhile, Huff's mother, Izzy (Emmy-winning Blythe Danner), anesthetizes her emotional pain with alcohol; his mother-in-law, Madeline (Swoosie Kurtz), refuses painkillers in the late stages of cancer (because she "might miss something"); Huff's mentally ill brother, Teddy (Andy Comeau), is all angst and confusion trying to find stability; Huff's adolescent son, Byrd (Anton Yelchin), looks like the most stable member of the family but secretly breaks into other people's houses for mysterious reasons; and Huff's sexy, complicated wife, Beth (Paget Brewster), loves him but struggles with his issues as well as her own. A mysterious "homeless Hungarian" (Jack Laufer) appears to Huff in key moments -- part conscience, part guardian, part imaginary friend, this apparition may or may not be an indicator of Huff's own mental-health crisis.

Is it any good?

Huff is rich with brilliantly drawn characters, provocative themes, and sharp writing. A stellar ensemble cast and outstanding guest stars (such as Lara Flynn Boyle, Anjelica Houston, and Sharon Stone) deliver extraordinary performances. For adults prepared to cope with its complicated themes and characters, this is a show well worth watching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all the ways people avoid their feelings about difficult issues. What works for the characters in Huff as they tackle or avoid life's issues, and what doesn't? 

  • How does this show portray drug use? Even for prescribed medications, do these characters use them safely and healthily?

  • What kinds of relationships sustain us, and what kinds are toxic? Can people save each other? Can someone be saved when he or she does not want to be saved?

  • Does having money assure these characters personal security or a satisfying life?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love complex stories

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