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 even though it stars former child actors Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, this sitcom isn’t meant for tweens. The characters’ dialogue often refers to issues like underage drinking, sex, and marital unrest. Language -- including multiple variations of “hell” and “ass,” as well as frequent use of words like "suck" and "screw" -- is also on the strong side. That said, the show does center on a strong female character who’s dedicated to balancing her work and personal lives and ensuring the well-being of her niece and nephew, and it aims to convey messages related to responsibility, appreciating others, and the importance of family ties.
What's the story?
MELISSA & JOEY centers on rising political star Mel (Melissa Joan Hart), whose fast-paced lifestyle gets a little more hectic with the arrival of her niece, Lennox (Taylor Spreitler), and nephew, Ryder (Nick Robinson), who end up in her care after their mom gets sent to jail and their dad skips town. In over her head, Mel decides to hire a nanny -- but fate sends her an unlikely rescuer in the form of Joe (Joey Lawrence), an unemployed finance guru who becomes the family’s surprisingly capable “manny.”
Is it any good?
First the good news: Hart and Lawrence could easily build careers playing opposite each other, with the chemistry they established in the TV movie My Fake Fiance carrying over to this new endeavor. Even in Mel and Joe's dislike of each other onscreen, it’s easy to like the combination they create, and the show benefits from their presence. Unfortunately, the show as a whole doesn’t quite measure up to the standards of its stars. Like the frazzled Mel, viewers are always one step behind the action, trying unsuccessfully to keep up with the show’s frantic pace.
Still, there are some sweet moments as the show's unlikely family makes small progress in bonding, and the gender-role shake-up -- with Mel furthering her career and Joe holding down the fort at home -- livens things up. But overall, the show doesn't live up to its stars, and the use of strong language (mostly “ass” and “hell," but there’s a surprising amount of it) and references to underage drinking and sex ensure that it’s not for tweens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about family members’ roles within the household. How are responsibilities assigned in your home? What are your chores? Does gender play a role in who does what? Why or why not?
What defines a family? How has that definition changed over the years? How does the media reflect that change?
Teens: How do you deal with adversity? What resources do you have to cope with the difficulties in your life? What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome? Was the experience rewarding?
For kids who love TV families
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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.