Let's Get Physical

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Let's Get Physical TV Poster Image
Iffy jokes about body types and manhood in OK comedy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Show is basically a redemption saga with a bittersweet family angle, but with lots of fat jokes and iffy messages about men and women. Joe's father tells his son to "man up" and that a particular moment will separate "the men from the boys." A woman is called a "money-hungry trollop" after she enters a competition, and seems to be viewed by this series as a pawn in a competition between two men. Jokes about weight and Joe's body abound -- at his father's funeral a rival says, "Sorry for your loss and how much you've gained," while his mom hugs him during an emotional moment and comments, "A bit flabby." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Joe leads a dissolute life ("My body's a dive bar, everybody's having fun," he says) and is estranged from his parents but when the chips are down, he chooses to follow the life path his well-meaning parents laid out for him. Rival Barry is painted as an unrepentant villain who taunts Joe even at his dad's funeral. Claudia's part is underwritten -- she sometimes seems sympathetic to Joe yet is often a villain like her husband, Barry. Joe's mom, Janet, is another quixotic character, sometimes hugging her son and calling him a "baby boy," sometimes criticizing him cruelly for his body type. 

Violence

Violence is usually comic but can be offensive: A man's death is played for laughs, with a classroom of aerobics students imitating his heart attack and collapsing; characters argue in front of a body in an open casket at a funeral. Jokes about suicide and self-harm, too: A depressed man says "I hope I die tonight" as he prepares to drunkenly pass out on the floor. Later, he asks, "How do I get up on the roof, I need to kill myself," and is directed to a building across the street because his death at the original building would be a "liability." 

Sex

Expect flirting, dating, kissing, and jokes about sex: A fan of Joe's band stands up and whips open her shirt to express her musical appreciation; Joe refers to what he sees as "droopy." One man refers to "getting laid," there are jokes about "beating off," "jizz," "dildos," suppressing one's climax during sex as a spiritual/energetic ritual, and more. 

Language

Cursing and language includes "f--k" (bleeped), "s--t," "damn," "bastard," "ass," "d--k" (referring to the body part), and "hell." Insulting language (e.g., Joe calls his mom "bats--t" crazy, Joe tells Barry "screw you" or calls him "dingle-barry"). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place at bars, and main character drinks whiskey frequently, sometimes chugging from a bottle and then getting sloppy and sad. Jokes target drugs: "I thought rock stars were skinny because of the drugs," says Joe's mom. "Donuts are a drug," he replies. Adults say they "need a drink" during stressful times. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Let's Get Physical is a comedy about an out-of-shape guy, Joe (Matt Jones), who's forced by circumstance to enter an aerobics competition. There are lots of jokes about Joe's body type, with loved ones and rivals alike taunting him about his weight and laziness, and there's humor that targets masculinity: "Man up!" Joe's dad tells him. Joe's a drinker (he's shown guzzling whiskey from a bottle before passing out), and he makes comments about self-harm: "I hope I die tonight," he says at one point; at another, he asks to be directed to a building's roof so he can jump off. Sex jokes are common too, with jokes about masturbation, orgasms, sex toys, and other mature topics. Language includes "f--k" (bleeped), "s--t," "damn," "bastard," "ass," "d--k" (the body part), and "hell." A female character is treated as a pawn in a rival between two men. 

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What's the story?

When LET'S GET PHYSICAL hero Joe (Matt Jones) was a teen, his "godfather of aerobics" father expected him to follow in his spandex'd footsteps. But when Joe was beaten by his buff rival, Barry Cross (Chris Diamantopoulos), at an important aerobics competition and his girlfriend, Claudia (AnnaLynne McCord), dumped him for Barry, Joe left home forever, and now works instead in a Guns 'n' Roses tribute band. Now Joe's father has passed away, and he's bequeathed his gym, Force Fitness, to Joe -- and an $8 million fortune to the next winner of the Competitive Aerobics Competition. Can Joe and his mom, Janet (Jane Seymour), team up to make Force Fitness -- and Joe himself -- into a force in the fitness game, and beat The Metrix, Barry and Claudia's snooty gym chain? 

Is it any good?

It's hard to escape the thought that this louche, loose, fitfully funny comedy was created mostly so the creators could put the principals in lots and lots of spandex. It can't be denied: Spandex is funny, particularly '80s-style spandex, with neon colors in never-before-seen-in-nature combinations, and sweatbands and unitards abounding. Let's Get Physical's leads, Jones, McCord, and Diamantopoulos, are also terrific and have snappy comic chemistry. Jones finds all the comic beats in jokes about his multitude of bad habits, as does Diamantopoulos in the many gags painting him as a hyper-competitive gym nerd who's hyper-obsessed with his body: When Claudia uses a gadget to scan his body for "fat deposits" that could cause "unflattering camera angles," he bemoans a goji berry smoothie he drank last week: "Zero net carbs, my fat ass," he grumbles. 

But the way two of the show's women are depicted takes a little shine off the comedy. Janet's your standard-issue screwy mom, alternately giving Joe warm fuzzies and criticizing him. More problematically, the show seems to see Claudia as part of the stakes between Barry and Joe. It's not enough that Barry "stole" (i.e., worked hard for) what should be Joe's "birthright" (i.e., the future that Joe's dad wanted for him), Barry also wound up with Claudia's affections. But a woman is not a trophy, and presumably this character didn't break up with Joe because Barry won her. Yet the show seems to believe she'll be a part of Joe's prize package when he inevitably triumphs, as sloppy likable everyguys have been triumphing over muscle-bound jocks in movies for generations now. Barry and Joe are fun -- keep their rivalry non-misogynistic, and as clean as a just-wiped weight machine, and we'll sign up for a membership, no problem. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why "fish out of water" plots are common in sitcoms like Let's Get Physical. What's funny about putting someone in a place they don't fit in? What dramatic possibilities does it offer? 

  • Are viewers supposed to feel the same way about all the characters on Let's Get Physical? Are some supposed to be relatable and some absurd? Which characters are which, and how can you tell? 

  • How would this show change if it were about Claudia instead of Joe? Why are female characters on shows so often girlfriends, wives, or mothers? Is Claudia as sympathetic a character as Joe? Is she supposed to be? 

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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