Mary Knows Best

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Mary Knows Best TV Poster Image
Psychic mom knows all on reality series about quirky family.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show conveys the message that family is important, no matter what.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mary loves her family ... and also feels entitled to have her say, even though her kids are now grown adults (and they don't always appreciate it when she butts in). She’s well-meaning, but she often crosses boundaries -- as when her psychic gifts provide her with keen insights into the lives of complete strangers and she feels compelled to jump into their conversations.


Some references to people seeking romance.


Little stronger than "fricking" is audible, but other words are bleeped.


Occhino is often seen at work in the studio hosting her radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio. The network and her show are frequently promoted by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows the matriarch of a close-knit Long Island clan who also happens to be a psychic -- emphasizes the importance of family, even if they sometimes drive you crazy. Mary's quirky relatives are all loud and opinionated and can sometimes be a bit off color, but there’s not a lot of swearing or sex. Mary herself has some boundary issues, but she always means well. Expect some social drinking.

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What's the story?

Mary Occhino has a gift: She’s a real psychic who often receives messages about people from the beyond. She’s also the host of a radio call-in show and the matriarch of a boisterous Italian-American Long Island clan. It’s a busy life, and all of it shows up on MARY KNOWS BEST, a reality series about Mary’s unusual family and even more unusual career.

Is it any good?

Mary and her relatives are interesting, but aside from her psychic gifts, they actually aren’t especially unusual. There are plenty of outspoken families who bicker over the dinner table and make fun of each other’s romantic choices. So why does she get to star in a reality show? Well, because she’s psychic. But viewers mostly know she has these gifts because people on the show tell us, not because we actually see her in action.

And that’s the show's problem. Viewers are happy to watch rock star Ozzy Osbourne engaged in mundane activities because there’s such a contrast between his hard-core rocker persona and his average-guy behavior. But Occhino isn’t famous. All we know is her average mom behavior and the few glimpses we get of her actually being psychic. Average moms are common on TV -- we need to see more of her being psychic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about psychics. Do you believe that people can commune with the dead? Do you think Mary really has that gift?

  • Do you think Mary’s family is portrayed accurately on the show? Do the producers edit it to play up any Italian-American stereotypes? In general, how much do you think editing affects the "reality" of reality TV?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality TV

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