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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 series definitely earns its TV-MA rating. Characters use a wide range of swear words, and the show includes nudity, explicit sex scenes, and very mature subject matter. Parents should also know that within the raw subject matter are smaller discussions about more positive themes -- such as gender equality, racial awareness, and the importance of eating healthy. Unfortunately, these topics easily go unnoticed given the series' explicit nature.
What's the story?
Starring in and created by Emmy-winning comic Louis C.K. (HBO's The Chris Rock Show), LUCKY LOUIE is the first HBO series to be taped in front of a live studio audience, following the traditional family sitcom format as established by such classics as The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. But Lucky Louie challenges the light-heartedness of those traditional popular sitcoms by using foul language, unlikable characters, and dark humor to portray marriage and family in blue-collar America. Louie (Louis C.K.) lives with his wife Kim (Pamela Adlon) and young daughter Lucy (Kelly Gould) in a small Boston apartment; while he works part-time at a muffler shop for minimal pay, Kim supports the family by working as a full-time nurse. The couple share time with their friends Tina (Laura Kightlinger) and her husband Mike (Mike Hagerty), drug-dealer Rich (Jim Norton), and Jerry (Rick Shapiro), a former small-time thief and recovering addict. Meanwhile, Louie constantly seeks to ease what he perceives to be racial tensions between him and his African-American neighbors, Ellen (Kim Hawthorne) and Walter (Jerry Minor).
Is it any good?
The series introduces storylines that center on blunt, often-crass discussions of sex, drugs, and more sex. (Setting the tone for the series, the pilot episode opens with a conversation between Louie and 4-year-old Lucy that includes details about his marijuana smoking.) The dialogue also contains frequent, unambiguous discussions about selling drugs, orgasms, masturbation, and various other sexual acts. The strong sex scenes between Louie and his wife lack any heart or emotion; instead, they're moments in which viewers can literally see their own unpleasant, awkward bedroom moments.
This series isn't about happy endings, being liked, or being polite. It's about pushing the envelope by offering a very raw portrayal of American family life. In doing so, it sometimes gets a few laughs, but mostly it feels like envelope-pushing for envelope-pushing's sake. And it's absolutely not for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how television can offer a very unrealistic version of family life and that in real life, having a strong marriage and supporting a family takes hard work. What challenges has your family faced? Are there issues that you think your family needs to work on to make it stronger? Issues like class, race, and gender are also good discussion topics.