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 this “gothic comic miniseries” from Canadian sketch comedy group Kids in the Hall was designed to make adults laugh with its mature (and sometimes morbid) humor. As the title suggests, death and murder are part of the plot, and there’s some mid-level violence (with visible blood) that’s played for laughs, along with a few scenes involving alcohol and characters who drink to excess and do drugs. Thanks to the show's late-night time slot, you'll also hear some unbleeped language (including "s--t," “prick,” and “bitch”) and see some characters in sexual situations, although there isn't any nudity.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DEATH COMES TO TOWN quite literally when the Grim Reaper (Mark McKinney) rides his bicycle into Shuckton, Ontario, and moves in to the No Tell Motel. He’s got plans to kill, of course. But nobody suspects what tragedies await until the town’s mayor, Larry Bowman (Bruce McCulloch), turns up dead. Suddenly, everyone’s a suspect, including the mayor’s alcoholic wife, Marilyn (Dave Foley); his blustery mistress, TV news forecaster Heather Weather (Scott Thompson); and hand sanitizer-huffing town miscreant Crim Hollingsworth (also Thompson).
Is it any good?
This “gothic comic miniseries” was co-written by Canadian sketch-comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. And when it comes to laughs, Death doesn’t disappoint, particularly if you’re already a fan of the Kids and their unique brand of subversive humor. The concept itself is quite clever -- it plays like a mash-up of Reno 911! and Waiting for Guffman -- and these characters are some of the best the Kids have ever come up with. Fastidious town coroner Dusty Diamond is a definite keeper.
Although there's some iffy stuff to be aware of, content-wise, older teens (and their parents) with a penchant for subtle humor will definitely appreciate the bone-dry gags. The only downside is that the miniseries consists of just eight 30-minute episodes, which breeze by so fast that you feel like you’re leaving Shuckton far too soon. Here’s hoping the Kids pen another chapter so we can come back and visit again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show’s use of satire. How can you tell that it isn't meant to be taken seriously? Does the presence of deadpan humor downplay the violence and make it seem any less extreme?
What are the potential real-life consequences of some of the behavior you see in the show? What message does it send when a show plays that kind of behavior for laughs?
Why do we laugh when men dress in drag and impersonate women? Would the show be as funny if male actors only played male characters, and female actors played the female characters instead?
For kids who love quirky characters
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