Kenan & Kel
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series plays for humor the mischievous adventures of two teens who evade the repercussions of -- and therefore never learn lessons from -- their irresponsible actions and ill-advised schemes. A family unit exists for one of the teens (and, by default, the other, since he practically lives there), but the parents seem unaware of their son's escapades and so don't intervene. That said, it's obvious that the show's only intended for humor, and the stars do deliver the laughs with their outlandish circumstances and classic physical comedy.
What's the story?
KENAN & KEL is a comedy series that follows the misadventures of Kenan Rockmore (Kenan Thompson) and Kel Kimble (Kel Mitchell), best friends who always manage to find themselves in wacky situations. Kenan works at a local grocery store, and Kel tags along wherever his buddy goes, so each is rarely without the other to lean on when things get out of hand . . . although they quickly learn that in this case, two heads usually isn't any better than one. When they're not out causing mischief, they're usually hanging out at home with Kenan's parents and his younger sister, Kyra (Vanessa Baden), who harbors a longtime crush on her brother's best friend.
Is it any good?
This '90s series paired friends and All That cast members Thompson and Mitchell, who complement each other like a modern Laurel and Hardy. Kel's dimwittedness is offset by Kenan's penchant for overzealous get-rich schemes, and every scenario spells disaster in some fashion. The good news is that the zingers come a mile a minute, and if mindless comedy is what you're after, there's plenty of the fluffy stuff to be found here. Viewers will also like the informality of the opening and closing sequences, in which the stars interact with the studio audience.
The flipside of the comedy is that the teen characters never get a chance to demonstrate any responsible or true-to-life behavior, so kids might get the wrong idea from the consistently rosy outcomes of their poor judgment and raucous missteps. What's more, the lone family unit that exists does little to intervene or provide guidance in the boys' lives, leaving them to their own devices most of the time. Ultimately, Kenan & Kel is an adequate comedy for older tweens (though nostalgic adults is the more likely audience), but you might want to follow up with a reality check to be sure your kids know how things work in the real world.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about stereotyping. Do you think this show is an example of stereotyping? What aspects of the characters' lives make you feel the way you do? Would your opinion be different if the characters were another ethnicity? Do you think all stereotyping is offensive? Why or why not?
Tweens: Does entertainment always need to have positive messages? Are the "rules" the same for kids' shows as they are for teen and adult shows? Is it possible to learn something from a series or movie even if its characters don't model good behavior?
What are your family's rules about screen time? How do you monitor your time limits? Are there shows or movies that are off-limits to you? Do you know why? Do you talk about the things you see on TV?