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 Kenan is a sitcom about a father (Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson) who hosts a morning TV show and has become a single parent to his two young daughters in the wake of his wife's death. That loss is referred to both obliquely and directly, in jokes and in stories about her; the family learning to accept her death and move on is a central theme of the show. Family love is strong, and family members are there for each other when the chips are down, even if they sometimes gently mock each other. Jokes may touch on mature topics, like in an outtake from the sitcom where Kenan and his late wife met, when the two kiss in a comically sensual way. Many of the show's characters are single; expect dating and romantic complications. Language includes "damn it," "ass," "hell," "sucks," "AF" (stands for "as f--k"). One character holds but does not smoke a cigar. Themes of communication and humility are evident in the way that family members solve problems and work hard to support each other.
What's the story?
After the death of his wife, Cori (Niccole Thurman), KENAN (Kenan Thompson) is getting through life with a stiff upper lip. Yes, he can keep his morning show hosting gig on track, raise young daughters Aubrey (Dani Lane) and Birdie (Dannah Lane), and he can do it perfectly, thank you very much. He even has his supportive if eccentric father-in-law, Rick (Don Johnson), and carefree brother Gary (Chris Redd) to help him out. But when things start going wrong both at home and at work, Thompson realizes he's going to need more than just his family's help to make it.
Is it any good?
With a lovable vibe and a great cast, this sitcom scores surprisingly often for a show with a gimmicky premise. Liberated from just making people laugh on SNL, Kenan Thompson is alternatively sweet and tart as a single dad struggling to raise his daughters and keep his morning TV career afloat after the death of his wife. He plays both emotion and mockery adeptly; viewers will quickly get to like him and, even more, enjoy the camaraderie between Thompson's Kenan Williams, the twin sisters who play his sweetly cheeky daughters, Chris Redd as Williams' feckless brother Gary, and Don Johnson as Grandpa Rick, obviously on old pro on TV comedies, and here acquitting himself like one.
On the other hand, Kenan doesn't go anywhere unexpected: Kenan, Rick, and Gary spend a lot of their time ribbing each other, and Birdie and Aubrey are wise beyond their years. Mature, too, as they urge their dad in the pilot to start putting himself out there romantically, prospecting on an unnamed dating app for potential new stepmom material. Viewers will easily be able to envision the kind of complications that will arise on Kenan: dates, trouble at school, and foibles at the workplace, since Kenan's morning show is the setting for roughly half of Kenan. But Kenan is still as comforting and as easy to ingest as a warm bowl of oatmeal -- a reliable pleasure, if not a shock to the senses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Kenan compares to other family-centered shows. Does the content seem more or less realistic than that of other such shows? Do the central relationships seem nontraditional to you? How are they different from other sitcom families?
How does your family compare to the characters in this show? What aspects of your family might be considered nontraditional? How do the characters change over the course of the series? In what ways does this show emotional growth on their part?
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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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