Life with Boys
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Funny family sitcom with positive themes for tweens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show is intended to entertain rather than to educate, but there are some positive messages about family, friendship, and self-esteem.
Each episode sees Tess coping with some malady of teen life, such as dating or dealing with being bullied by a peer. Her actions often wind up hurting other people, but she always learns a lesson and remedies the problem. A mean girl uses her popularity to manipulate her classmates, usually with more humor and less fallout than surround Tess' misjudgments. The show presents a well-adjusted single-parent home with a lot of sibling rivalry, but also a lot of love. Some mild bathroom humor like body odors.
Positive Role Models
Tess isn't afraid to go against the flow, as is evident in her place on the school's predominantly male wrestling team and her battles of will with her social nemesis. She values meaningful relationships and respects her family, despite not always agreeing with them. Other characters are slightly less admirable, including an image-obsessed best friend and a coercive teen who uses popularity as a bargaining chip with peers.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen relationships have minimal kissing.
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"Butt" and stand-in curse words like "shming" are as strong as it gets. Kaylee calls Tess a "freak" because she's a wrestler.
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Products & Purchases
Some cultural references like Project Runway and Lady Gaga.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Life with Boys is a funny family sitcom with strong themes about family relationships, friendship, and a positive self-esteem. The main character is a teen girl who laments the fact that she lives in an all-boy household, but the support of her brothers and dad proves to be one of her greatest strengths. Tess often makes less-than-admirable choices that wind up hurting others, but there's an obvious lesson in her actions when she sets things right again. Mild bathroom humor, stand-in swearing (a teen makes up her own expletives like "shming"), and some instances of bullying from a self-absorbed popularity queen don't detract from the positive content in this show.
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Life with Boys
Based on 3 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
Fifteen-year-old Tess Foster (Torri Webster) is the lone female in a house full of guys, and the situation is fraught with pitfalls for a teen girl. There's her older brother, Gabe (Nathan McLeod), the school's heartthrob who loves to get under his sister's skin; her twin brother, Sam (Michael Murphy), who's academically superior and socially challenged; and her precocious younger brother, Spencer (Jake Goodman), who likes to be in the middle of things. Heading up the Foster crew is dad Jack (Sandy Jobin-Bevans), a widower, high school gym teacher, and Tess' wrestling coach, and sometimes even the biggest kid of them all. Living with her four best guys has its disadvantages, but Tess learns that when push comes to shove, they can also serve as a rock of strength.
Is It Any Good?
There are few surprises in LIFE WITH BOYS, a family-centered sitcom marked by laughable sibling spats (as when Tess discovers her brother uses the microwave to dry his underwear), true-to-life teen drama (the resident social queen uses and discards her peers with cruel consistency), and heartwarming exchanges between caring family members. Tess marches to the beat of her own drum, choosing to participate in an all-boy sport and locking horns with, but never backing down to, mean queen Kaylee (Francesca Martin), and ultimately she picks the right path of honesty and consideration for others. What's more, her relationship with fashion-obsessed best friend Allie (Madison Pettis) only accentuates the differences in their personalities, giving Tess more credence as the show's level-headed star.
Because Life with Boys puts so much emphasis on the lessons Tess learns from her mistakes and gives her imperfect but loyal family members an integral role in her positive self-image, it's a great choice for the tween set. The characters' actions aren't perfect, and some escape consequences that would exist in the real world, but if you focus on Tess' experiences, you'll see relatable cause-and-effect scenarios and enjoy the show's funny spin on the rollercoaster ride of modern family life.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about coping with bullies. Tweens: Do you ever see any behavior at school that you consider bullying? What recourse do you have against it? How has technology changed the nature of this kind of behavior?
This sitcom presents a well-adjusted single-parent home. In what ways does it reflect your family's home life? Do any aspects of the characters' lives seem improbable?
Tess' self-confidence is one of her standout qualities. What accounts for your inner strength? How does positive self-esteem help you cope with the challenges in your life?
- Premiere date: September 9, 2011
- Cast: Madison Pettis, Nathan McLeod, Torri Webster
- Network: TeenNick
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- TV rating: TV-G
- Last updated: August 23, 2022
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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