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Look Around You
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 this British send-up of educational programming from the 1970s and '80s is loaded with ridiculously distorted science "facts" and flat-out untruths that are meant to amuse adults, which makes it an iffy choice for kids who are still working on mastering basic scientific principles. While not too much of the content is inherently inappropriate for older teens (aside from a bit of sexual inuendo and a few humorous references to alcohol), they could get a few answers wrong on their next exam if they don't do their own homework. There are also some British pop culture references that kids -- and American adults -- might not get.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A deadpan narrator presents themed lessons on a variety of topics -- including "Maths," "Water," "Germs," and "Ghosts" -- in this series of 10-minute comic shorts that spoof educational programming from the 1970s and '80s. But the joke is that you won't actually learn anything, except how to laugh at how far technology has come. Created by Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, LOOK AROUND YOU originally aired on the BBC in 2002, with a second series airing three years later. Episodes feature well-known British comedians, including Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and spoof classic British pop-science shows like How and Tomorrow's World.
Is it any good?
Kids probably won't get the joke here -- and maybe that's a good thing. After all, do you really want your tween or young teen concluding that "Germs originated in Germany before rapidly spreading throughout the rest of the world"? But for older teens and adults who have plenty of schooling, Look Around You is a satisfying romp into nutty, nostalgic territory. Anyone who enjoys a good spoof is bound to enjoy the show's reliance on bad lighting, bad hair, clunky computers, and dated pop culture references, but fans of Monty Python's Flying Circus -- and of British humor (or should we say "humour"?) in general -- will find it particularly funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the art of using fictious "facts" for comedic effect -- and the importance of knowing that this show is just a parody. What "facts" were presented that you know to be 100% wrong -- and what are the actual answers? When it comes to science, were any of the program's statements true -- and if so, can you be 100% sure? What elements make it clear that this show is meant to be funny instead of serious? (Think about everything -- from the narration to the art direction.) Teens: How does this program compare to the genuine educational programs you watch in school?