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 dramedy -- which focuses on three middle-aged male friends facing various life challenges, both personal and professional -- touches on complex issues like divorce, gambling problems, and family relationships. While not meant for kids, the show's situations will seem very real to adults, and they demonstrate how everyone makes life choices that take them to different places. While some of these paths may look appealing to people who've gone in other directions, the series makes it clear that every choice has pros and cons. Expect strong language (including "s--t"), some drinking, and plenty of talk about sex (but not too much on-screen action).
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What's the story?
Longtime friends Joe (Ray Romano), Terry (Scott Bakula), and Owen (Andre Braugher) have reached a stage in their lives when choices made years ago are starting to catch up with them. Firmly ensconced in their middle-aged years, the trio now has very different lives, and none of them is quite certain that this is what they wanted. Joe is getting a divorce and struggles with a gambling problem. Owen, a dedicated family man who works at his father’s auto dealership, is trying to climb the ladder of success despite his dad’s petty efforts to put him down. And Terry is an underemployed actor/office temp who prefers to date younger women and avoids commitment. As they navigate the shoals of middle age, the trio falls back on their friendship to help get through the more difficult situations.
Is it any good?
The men in MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE all seem very real, and the show's strength lies in situations that seem like they could happen to anyone. There’s no outrageous drama here -- just regular people trying to get through life. Viewers looking for simple escapism won’t find it, but they probably will find characters who will seen familiar to anyone who’s ever wondered whether the grass really is greener at their neighbor’s house. Joe and Owen may be slightly jealous of Terry’s string of young girlfriends, for example, but it seems like Terry's starting to wonder whether he’s missing out on family life.
The acting makes these average-Joe men come to life, especially Romano as the newly separated dad who misses his kids and can’t seem to figure out whether he’s actually single and whether the family he worked so hard to create is really and truly fractured for good. Braugher, too, excels as a man who has to deal with a tyrannical father and boss every day, reining in years of frustration. Just like the rest of us, they’re looking for a way to get the life they want -- despite the hurdles that the real world throws in their way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about life choices. How are the three main characters' lives different, and how did each one get there? Can you think of any significant choices you've made in your own life?
Do the show's situations and characters seem realistic? How does it compare to other dramas or comedies about middle-aged family situations?