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 Life in Pieces is a sitcom about milestone events in the life of a family, seen from different members' perspectives. The action centers on common family foibles, so this could be a good show to watch with teens (though they'll have to be mature enough for a lot of jokes about body parts, casual sex, bodily functions, virginity, prostitution, and the like). An occasional "damn" is heard. No drugs or smoking here, but characters drink beer and cocktails in social situations; no one acts drunk. Expect flirting, kissing, and dating; characters attempt to have first-date sex in a car, and we see a woman in her underwear.
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What's the story?
Life happens in the little bits and pieces that occur and then are remembered and passed on, says John Short (Josh Brolin), the patriarch of the family that forms the center of comedy LIFE IN PIECES. Each episode jumps around in time and perspective, illuminating humorous or meaningful moments in the history of the Short family: Dad John, mother Joan (Dianne Wiest), and their three grown children, Greg (Colin Hanks), Heather (Betsy Brandt), and Matt (Thomas Sadoski). Each member of the family has his or her own memories and takes on oft-repeated family stories; we watch the kids go to college, the family preparing to take home a new baby, and other high points.
Is it any good?
Clever lines delivered by good actors with great timing enliven the proceedings, and the action is mild enough for whole-family watching, but sophisticated viewers will experience a "seen-it" ennui as the Short family's hijinks are rehashed by each member. This is the kind of sitcom where the birth of a child triggers jokes about the new mom's "ruined" vagina and how upset the new dad is about abstaining from sex for six weeks; where a dad who decides to throw his own funeral for his 70th birthday party gets stuck in a coffin, and where a woman who just wants to find a private place for first-date sex is repeatedly mistaken for a prostitute.
It's not that the gag-writing is awful; in fact, these actors are old pros and can deliver zingers with panache. It's just that the plot points are so very sitcommy -- for example, if you see a pool you know someone's falling in it (and probably in a tuxedo). Still, teen and tween viewers may find this amusing enough to want to watch with Mom and Dad, and though it's not all that fresh, it's entertaining enough.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why family dynamics are such a perennial focus for TV shows. Which TV comedies can you name about families? What dramatic or comedic possibilities does a family offer?
Do the characters on Life in Pieces act like real people, or are their words and actions exaggerated? Does this make them more or less funny? Why?