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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 Katy Keene is a Riverdale spin-off that has a lighter tone and focuses on the romantic and career travails of a 20-something woman. The cast is diverse in terms of race, sexual identity, and ethnicity, and show perserverance and teamwork in moving ahead in their careers and personal lives. There's some body shaming (a character says "thank you very much" when told he's "too skinny"), classism, and characters who are unrealistically competitive, like a co-worker of Katy's who sabotages her at work. But relationships between main characters are sweet and supportive. Jorge is a drag artist; expect to see his performances and characters criticizing his gender presentation and sexuality. He accepts himself, however, and is loved and accepted by friends and family. Characters are preoccupied by romance; expect romantic complications, dating, flirting, same- and opposite-sex kissing. Katy has a boyfriend who walks around a lot in his boxer briefs; we also see the pair waking up in bed together in their underwear. Scenes take place at bars, and roommates drink together frequently. Katy also works at a department store where we see expensive clothing and accessories, and hear about a lot of luxury brands: Versace, Chanel, Dom Perignon. Language is infrequent: "damn," "hell," "screw," "bitch."
What's the story?
Riverdale spin-off KATY KEENE tunes in on the lives of four Archie Comics characters: fledgling designer Katy Keene (Lucy Hale), pop-star-to-be Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), Broadway hopeful Jorge Lopez/Ginger (Jonny Beauchamp), and well-connected socialite/performer Pepper Smith (Julia Chan). In bustling New York City, they're all chasing their dreams, and even if it's not always easy, they always have each other to lean on.
Is it any good?
It's a little silly and cheese-laden, but this series' ample charms are clear from the moment the viewer first recognizes that this is a sort of NYC-specific fairy tale. Many will probably be reminded of a kind of Sex and the City junior, with its gorgeous characters alternately weathering romantic and career complications while frequently underlining how lucky they are to do it in NYC, but what it resembles even more strongly is The Bold Type, that underappreciated, underseen series about ambitious young women working at a fashion magazine. Like The Bold Type, Katy Keene is full of blithe anachronisms: Just as fashion magazines haven't been rolling in dough or culturally influential since the century's turn, it's odd to employ Katy, a fledgling designer, at a department store that seems to be modeled after Bergdorf Goodman circa 1960. Then too, there's the matter of all the outdated names. Surely there's not a 20-something Buzz, Katy, or Pepper left in the world, and even though said names and characters were largely imported from Archie Comics, it still strikes an odd tone.
Still, there are plenty of things the series gets right, and still others that are so frothy and fun that viewers won't care. The apartment that Josie, Katy, and Jorge share is authentically small and grimy, real NYC-style, and though Josie is the hottest musical star to ever emerge from Riverdale, the big-city folks who first hear her music dismiss her as sweet but colorless. The supportive relationships between Katy and her friends is also charming, and rings true, even if the show sometimes leans a bit hard on female competitiveness for drama (we could seriously do without Katy's sabotaging co-worker). Jorge's storyline, in which the sometimes drag artist is desperately seeking an entertainment milieu in which his somewhat feminine presentation is an asset instead of a downside, is also quite modern and delightful, and Jonny Beauchamp is so relatable that you'll instantly be on his side. In short, Katy's not perfect, but in terms of soapy, light, easy-to-digest dramas, it scores.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how many dramas and comedies have glamorous settings in which its characters work in fashion or entertainment. What is attractive or compelling about this setting? Is it the presence of young female characters who hope to succeed in business (while looking stylish and gorgeous)? How is Katy Keene like or different from other movies and TV shows about young women who work in fashion, such as The Devil Wears Prada, The Carrie Diaries, or Ugly Betty?
Katy Keene mostly focuses on the romantic and career struggles of its characters. Which are more compelling to you? Why? Does the focus on more than one aspect of these characters' lives make it more relatable? More balanced? Is this a typical approach for dramatic soaps featuring young 20-somethings?
How do Katy, Josie, Jorge, and Pepper show perseverance and teamwork in Katy Keene? What qualities does each have that make them keep striving and occasionally scoring? Why are these important character strengths?
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