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 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.
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?
Themes & Topics
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