Indebted

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Indebted TV Poster Image
Some off-color humor, great cast in so-so sitcom.

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Kids say

age 6+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Show doesn't feel authentic enough for many positive messages to really land, but family love is predominating theme, with characters who are supportive of each other even when chips are down. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters seem more like stereotypes than real people. Debbie is clueless but loving, shamelessly favors her son over her daughter, while Stew does things that are unrealistically daffy, like bringing home a pair of pinatas when Rebecca asks him to bring home candy for the kids. Rebecca has something of a rivalry with her mother-in-law; she's presented as a touch pushy. "Pardon me, bitches, I need this more than you. I'm a mom!" she says, pushing her way through a crowd at a concert. Dave is a people pleaser and a bit smug; his sister Joanna is gay, and most of her jokes revolve around that facet of her character. The LGBTQ representation is welcomed, but it also rings a bit inauthentic. 

Violence
Sex

Jokes can range toward mature side, like when Rebecca says to Dave, "Every closet in this house is totally empty. ... Is it weird that it makes me horny?" In a later scene, Rebecca is filmed naked without her knowledge (we don't see any nudity) and is flattered by a comment on the video when it's published online that says she has "hot knockers." 

Language

Language is infrequent: a woman jokingly calls other women "bitches" and other words include "crap," "knockers," and "ass." A character says "What the f--k?" (which is bleeped).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine at dinner. Debbie reminisces about Dave "getting drunk on Daddy's Zima" at a long-ago slumber party. Rebecca guzzles from a wine bottle during a tense moment. When out at a club, she asks Dave, "Should we get Molly?" They don't, but both appear to consider it. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Indebted is a comedy about a couple with young kids whose lives are thrown out of whack when the husband's parents experience financial difficulties and move in with them. The strong bonds between family members are sweet and supportive, but a lot of the humor relies on stereotypes, such as clueless boomers, 30-somethings who wish they were still 20-somethings, and wacky co-workers. Some jokes are a bit mature, like when a woman jokes about a clean house making her "horny," or an extended joke about her being filmed nude without her knowledge in a video that's posted online (no nudity is shown). In other scenes, a character guzzles wine during a tense moment, and asks her husband if they should get "Molly" at a concert. Language is infrequent and includes "ass," "bitches," and "crap," and the word "f--k" is bleeped in one scene. Adults drink at dinner and while socializing, without getting drunk. 

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byDogcat April 28, 2020

No plot.

Someone told me that this show has no plot, don’t watch this.

What's the story?

When Debbie (Fran Drescher) and Stew's (Steven Weber) finances go seriously awry in their golden years, they're INDEBTED to their son, Dave (Adam Pally), and his wife, Rebecca (Abby Elliott), who take them in until they get back on their feet. While Dave helps them renovate their old house to put up for sale, the three generations living together under one roof try to adjust to their new circumstances. Complications -- and hijinks -- ensue.

Is it any good?

With its intrusive laugh track and wan jokes, this sitcom is heavy on the situation and unfortunately light on the comedy, despite the expert cast members. It's fun to see Fran Drescher again, working the oblivious nasal-voiced character she perfected on '90s classic The Nanny, and Steven Weber can still make a joke land, as those who have seen his recent turns in shows like Drunk History, Ballers, and Mom (as well as dozens of series and movie roles ranging back to the early '90s) can attest. So why aren't these two old pros given better lines? The studio audience seems eager to laugh at whatever it's thrown, particularly anything clueless from Drescher. When she refers to going to stay in an AirBLT or how she taught elderly neighbors to use "The Tweeter" they sound like they're all collectively laughing themselves into a hernia. For his part, Weber gets the biggest laughs when he says something out-to-lunch, like when he informs his daughter-in-law that the fundraising video he put online accidentally featured her "ass hanging out." 

Wringing laughter from jokes that portray seniors as clueless seems a little regressive, and the "intrusive parents who stomp all over their kids' privacy" setup is a stale cliché. But the real shame here is that Indebted misses its chance at topical humor that could have some real bite. Debbie and Stew's financial situation floundered after their retail business went south, and Debbie needed a knee operation but didn't have insurance to cover it. These are serious generational  problems that deeply affect real people Stew and Debbie's age and would have been welcomed onto the show, instead of hacky gags about closet space and Dave and Rebecca's sex life. Weber and Drescher are the best things about this show -- now get some sharp writers on the job. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the relationships between parents and their adult children on Indebted seem realistic. Do they talk like real people? Do they act like them? Are real people ever funny enough to be on a television show? Can you think of any shows that depict family relationships in a way that rings authentic to you?

  • Media critics often divide TV shows into "multi-camera" (usually filmed in front of a live studio audience on a set as if the show were a play) and "single-camera" (filmed more like a feature film, with scenes taking place outside of a set). Investigate some of your favorite shows: Are they single- or multi-camera? Which do you prefer? Indebted is a multi-camera show -- does it look and feel like one? What do you like, or dislike, about the format? 

  • Have you seen any of the actors in Indebted in other shows or movies? Does that affect how you view them in this series? Explain.

TV details

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