What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this tween-oriented sitcom draws material from teen star Lil' JJ's standup routine, allowing him to expound on various injustices young adolescents will relate to -- like getting in trouble for doing something your parents once did or changing your image to impress someone you like. Characters use a lot of slang, but it's fairly innocuous and is mostly used to highlight the vast cultural differences between the Jordan's Arkansas hometown and his new surroundings in Los Angeles. There are plenty of dating-related issues like crushes and flirting, but physical contact is limited to hugs and hand-holding. Jordan sometimes alludes to his parents' recent divorce and its emotional repercussions for him and his younger sister. The multicultural cast includes a mom who's a strong role model with high expectations for her teenage son.
What's the story?
In JUST JORDAN, teen comic Lil' JJ plays Jordan Lewis, an ultra-confident ninth grader who's navigating unfamiliar territory after his parents' divorce uproots him from Little Rock, Ark., and lands him in his mom's hometown of Los Angeles. Jordan tackles the major change head-on, quickly making friends with school heartthrob/basketball star Tony (Justin Chon) and the politically minded Joaquin (Eddy Martin). He also falls for beautiful snob Tamika (Chelsea Harris), who has no use for him but enjoys his puppy-dog devotion. When he's not at school or serving up burgers in his grandfather's diner, Jordan struggles with the many uncertainties that accompany his age. Each episode centers on some great injustice as seen through his eyes (for example, doing all the work but not getting the credit), and on occasion, Jordan addresses viewers directly about his many coming-of-age gripes.
Is it any good?
Though Just Jordan's adolescent storylines certainly aren't unique, there's a freshness to the writing and delivery that makes this Nickelodeon series a worthwhile choice for tween viewers. They'll find a lot to like in the relatable characters and comic spins on woes that they're probably familiar with. Parents, meanwhile, will be happy to know that positive messages about self-respect and responsibility are tightly woven into each plot.
The show does touch on issues related to divorce, including the emotional hardships for kids when they're relocated and their concerns when a parent starts to date again. But Jordan's respectful relationship with his mom -- whose advice is always on the mark -- and his obvious concern for his younger sister, Monica (Kristen Combs), reflect a strong family core that relies on love and communication to work through these and other issues.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the injustices that kids feel. Can your kids relate to Jordan's frustrations? When have they experienced similar feelings? How did they handle the situation? The show offers a good starting point for conversations with tweens about peer pressure, appropriate relationships with the opposite sex, and the importance of self-respect. Families affected by divorce can also talk about how kids are affected when parents split up.