TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Jann TV Poster Image
Some mature humor in easygoing fame-spoofing sitcom.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series explores fame and celebrity, and the importance (or lack therof) of either in comparison to living a genuine life with positive relationships. It also displays the limitations of fame compared to real everyday life, and how fame and success doesn't bring genuine, lasting happiness. 

Positive Role Models

Arden and her family members emerge as genuine-seeming people with good points and flaws: Arden cares deeply about her mother and sister but frequently mocks both, and can selfishly ignore their needs to attend to her own; over the course of the series, she regrets some of her decisions and tries to do better by her family. The series is refreshingly honest about Arden's feelings on aging, success, music, fame, her sexuality (she's proudly bisexual), and other ticklish subjects, and though she's frequently the butt of jokes, the humor isn't cruel or bitter. 


Violence is infrequent and used for comic effect, such as when Arden crashes her car fleeing police and then gets stuck trying to go under a barbed wire fence. 


Arden is a bisexual woman; her ex-girlfriend is still in the picture, but she says she's thinking about "getting men back in the rotation." Expect references to sex, romance, flirting, dating, and romantic heartbreak. Humor can be a bit mature, i.e. there's a scene in which Arden injures her genitals and uses a pack of ice pops to soothe the pain. 


Language includes "crap," "jackass," "damn," "ass," "f--k" is bleeped. Arden refers to her "cooch" (genitals) in one scene. Characters sometimes use substitutions for curse words, as when one says "What the freak?" about a perplexing situation. 


We hear Arden's songs, and see gold records and other trappings of success; Arden has an expansive house, but she's renting it out to make extra money. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jann is a sitcom starring Jann Arden, who had a successful singer-songwriter career in Canada that peaked in the 1990s. The series humorously chronicles Arden's (scripted, fictional) struggles to regain some of her former fame. Success and celebrity are frequently mocked, and Jann puts the limitations of celebrity under the microscope; funny situations frequently result from Arden's (generally unsuccessful) attempts at a comeback. We hear her best-known songs and see Arden's real gold records and other awards on the walls of her elegant house (which Arden rents out to make money). Humor can be a bit mature, like a scene in which Arden soothes the pain of an injury to her genitals with a pack of ice pops. Arden is bisexual, with a newly ex-girlfriend still in the picture; expect same- and opposite-sex romance, dating, kissing, romantic complications. Violence is infrequent and played for laughs, like when Arden crashes a car and gets stuck trying to go under a barbed wire fence while fleeing from police. Language is infrequent: "crap," "jackass," "damn," "ass," "f--k" is bleeped. The tone of the show is mocking but not bitter or cruel; Arden's relationships with her family members and friends are fraught but genuine, and Arden frequently makes herself the butt of jokes, yet she accepts herself as she is, and believes in herself and her talent. 

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What's the story?

In the 1990s, Jann Arden was a singer-songwriter sensation in her native Canada, with hits including ballads "Insensitive" and "Could I Be Your Girl." But as the eponymous star of JANN, Arden plays herself, slightly gone to seed. She can't get a break in her career or in her romantic life, despite many attempts to change her luck, and generally winds up looking foolish after attempting to put a scheme over. But she's starting to see indications that things are about to change -- will she wind up on top again, or is this one last hurrah before she's confined to the dustbin of pop culture history? 

Is it any good?

Most Americans have likely never heard of Jann Arden, and as this winsome, loose-limbed comedy proves, that's a shame. Arden has had a venerable Tori Amos-like career in Canada, but her heyday was the 1990s, and Jann begins with her career in precipitous decline. The best gig her hapless manager Todd (Jason Blicker) could get her is middling at a farmers' market just ahead of a father-and-son duck-calling duo, where she gets paid in Parmesan cheese. Her personal life is full of havoc too, with she and ex-girlfriend Cynthia (Sharon Taylor) taking some "space," while Jann's stalwart sister Max (Zoie Palmer) is unhappily pregnant, and firmly demands their elderly mom (Deborah Grover) move in with Jann for a while. But there is one bright spot on the horizon: powerhouse manager Cale (Elena Juatco) sees something in Jann, and wants to help her launch a social media-enabled comeback. 

Speaking of comebacks, The Comeback is exactly what Jann will remind you of, with a game star willing to poke fun at her foibles; there's also a whiff of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, with humor that depends largely on the humiliations a performing career heaps on those who aren't on top of the heap. But Arden is charming and delightful, and the humor is gentle instead of bitter; Arden's relationships with her sister, her mother, her manager and others read as true. You'll root for her, even while watching her fail is so enjoyable. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fame. What's so appealing about being famous? How far would you go to get attention? Is there a comfortable balance between fame and obscurity? What celebrities do family members admire and why? When you watch this show, do you feel like you're laughing with Arden or at her?

  • TV shows and movies that display the downsides of success and fame are common. Which can you name? How is Jann like or different from these shows? 

  • Jann Arden plays a version of herself in this show. What other shows do you know of in which the star plays a character based on themselves? Are all these shows comedies? What's the comedic potential in playing yourself? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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