By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Great messages and lots of fun in family-friendly comedy.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Feel-good lessons about family bonds, embracing individuality, and responsibility.
The show centers on a nontraditional family unit whose members make their relationships work with the help of communication, mutual trust, and, above all, a good sense of humor. A coming-of-age journey is complicated by the fact that three of the teens are hiding super powers, but they still deal fairly gracefully with some of the insecurities that come with the high school territory. There's some rebellion among the teens, but it always has consequences of some kind. Humor is derived from making fun of others, though it doesn't usually feel mean spirited.
Positive Role Models
All of the characters demonstrate a willingness to change to benefit their evolving family life. Siblings have their share of squabbles, but their ties to one another remain strong, and it's usually a combination of their talents that gets them out of jams. The diverse cast includes a biracial couple. Some stereotyping for humor -- an Irish character is called a "leprechaun," a jock is called a "mouthbreather." The principal is a comic character and humor sometimes comes from the fact that she's unattractive, loud, and large-figured.
Violence & Scariness
Playful scuffles between siblings. Some comic bullying, plus pratfall humor.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens (especially girls) talk about wanting to date, and there's some good-natured flirting. An adult couple is affectionate with each other.
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Plenty of insults and name calling, all intended humorously: "doofus," "butt," "ladyface."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lab Rats is a fun-filled show that has cross-generational appeal thanks to a talented cast, clever writing, and a unique storyline that's as much about the adults as it is the kids. The series is a comedy at heart, but it also mixes in some worthwhile themes about relationships, responsibility, and coping with change. All of the characters evolve to adapt to their new family structure, and the journey isn't without its bumps, but they work through their problems together. Strong adult role models, unpredictable bionic mishaps, and positive messages about embracing individuality round out this fun choice for families.
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Based on 21 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
LAB RATS is a comedy series about a charismatic but socially downtrodden teen named Leo (Tyrel Jackson Williams), who finds three bionic teens living in a secret lair in his inventor stepdad's house. Eager to befriend them, Leo offers to show them around the outside world, beginning with the unpredictable halls of his high school, where they unwittingly help his social status. When his stepdad, Donald (Hal Sparks), discovers the security breach, he fears for the safety of Adam (Spencer Boldman), Bree (Kelli Berglund), and Chase (Billy Unger) should their secret get out or, worse yet, should they lose control of their still-developing powers. Unfortunately, now that the teens have gotten a taste of real life, they're not willing to let it go, so Donald and Leo's mom, Tasha (Angel Parker), settle in for the long haul and take in the three superhumans as their own kids, glitches and all.
Is It Any Good?
Lab Rats is a truly family-friendly show that's almost as appealing for parents as it is for kids. It's a winning mix of the silly antics kids love and great messages about how family members relate to each other and why mutual trust and communication are important. The teens' bionic abilities raise some unique challenges, but ultimately this family tackles similar issues to the ones yours does: sibling rivalry, coping with feeling different, following family rules, and balancing the demands of parenthood.
It's easy to let your imagination run wild in a home that's filled with high-tech inventions, where interactive TV that lets you catch a home run ball in a major league park or a quick-witted "smart" house computer becomes a part of the family. What won't run wild, however, are these four teens. They're not perfect -- even the genetically engineered ones -- but they speak their mind, they learn from their mistakes, and they reflect the strong bonds that exist even within nontraditional families.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about family rules. How do your family's rules reflect your values? Do you understand the reasons for the rules you have? How do they change as you get older? What are the consequences for breaking those rules?
Kids: What characteristics set you apart from your siblings and your peers? What are some of your favorite aspects about yourself? If you could change one thing, what would it be? If you could have a super power, which one would you want?
In what ways does the family on Lab Rats reflect yours? What do you think defines a family? How is your family a source of comfort and strength for you?
- Premiere date: February 27, 2012
- Cast: Billy Unger, Spencer Boldman, Tyrel Jackson Williams
- Network: Disney XD
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Superheroes, Brothers and Sisters, High School
- Character Strengths: Communication
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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