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 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.
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.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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