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 Lunatics is the latest comedy series from controversial yet popular Australian satirist Chris Lilley (Jonah from Tonga, Summer Heights High). Lilley is known for his edgy, improvisational style, and viewers can expect a ton of crude language and sexual references. He's also received criticism for his use of racial stereotypes (one of his past series was pulled from the air over his use of blackface). Some critics have raised eyebrows about the appearance of one of the characters in this series as well -- a South African pet psychic who sports deeply tanned skin and a giant Afro hairdo -- though the show's official stance is that she's white. There are bits of brief nudity, a great deal of profanity, and some bullying behavior in this edgy series.
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What's the story?
LUNATICS is a mockumentary-style comedy series created by Australian comedic actor Chris Lilley. Lilley plays six different characters on the show: Keith, a disturbed clothing shop owner who has sexual feelings for a cash register; Gavin, a gutter-mouthed 12-year-old whose greatest aspiration is online stardom; Jana, a South African pet psychic nursing a barely repressed crush on her assistant; Becky, a cheerful but lonely college student who happens to be over seven feet tall; Quentin, a bar-hopping real estate agent with a strangely oversized rear end; and Joyce, a washed-up porn star suffering from mental illness that manifests as hoarding and voices in her head.
Is it any good?
When Chris Lilley's new show debuted, social media exploded with angry jabs at its purported offensiveness and racially insensitive overtones -- and a nuanced take on society's misfits it ain't. Comedy can and should push the envelope, but far too often Lunatics veers past "edgy" and into "just cruel" in a way that's just lazy. People's disabilities and deformities are frequently made into punchlines, and there's a mind-numbing repetition to a lot of the toilet humor that makes the 40-minute episodes feel like an absolute slog.
There's also something just plain uncomfortable about seeing 44-year-old Lilley -- made up as 12-year-old wannabe player Gavin -- acting like an aggressive and relentless sex pest toward preteen girls. Outsized and outraged initial reactions aside, the most damning thing about Lunatics might just be how flat a lot of its humor falls, though Lilley superfans may feel differently.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how comedians use satire to make a point. What message do you think Lunatics is trying to send with the stories it tells? How does Lilley want viewers to feel about the people he portrays?
How do you feel about the controversy surrounding Lunatics and Lilley's sometimes questionable use of stereotypes? Do you find his characterizations funny or offensive?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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