A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The profession of teaching is given respect in this show, which is frequently strongest in classroom scenes, with both teachers and students participating in lively discussions that hook into important issues. However, the setup of a young(ish) man looking for meaning and adventure in his life is a somewhat basic one, and we don't get any particularly fresh insights into a cliched setting.
Positive Role Models
Family bonds are tight and supportive; a mother and her two children support each other, even while they sometimes drive each other nuts. Many scenes delve into the workings of this particular family, and characters learn to be kinder and more thoughtful of each other over time. Mr. Corman's mother Ruth, says things like "You're a good man" to her son. Though main characters are white, Corman has a diverse circle of friends in terms of race and ethnicity (if not age or outlook).
Violence & Scariness
Violence has comic intent: a woman slaps Corman; the scene turns into animation and he flies out of a window and into outer space.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters are single and interested; expect scenes such as one in which Corman and a woman kiss passionately, discuss getting a condom. We see a woman in underwear and a bra.
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Cursing and language: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," as well as words for body parts: "dick."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink beer and cocktails, and smoke pot from a bong. One character makes a point of driving after another offers having smoked pot. Mr. Corman does not drink but goes to bars where others drink; no one acts drunk. Two characters go out to a bar patio and smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mr. Corman is a dramedy about a thirty-something man who wanted to be a rock star in his youth but has settled down and become an elementary school teacher. The overall tone of the show is somewhat downbeat but is enlivened by surreal sequences like one in which Corman and his mother have a colorful Broadway-musical style duet, and one in which a slap sends Corman into (animated) orbit. Sexual content is basic cable-style: Corman and a new friend kiss passionately in a couch in their underwear and discuss getting a condom. Characters also drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke pot; the main character doesn't drink at all and makes a point of being a designated driver for a group of friends who have been imbibing. Violence is infrequent, and usually played for laughs, like the aforementioned scene in which Corman is slapped and sails into outer space. Language contains "f--k" as well as "s--t" and words for body parts like "dick." Family bonds are tight, and family members argue but ultimately learn to be kinder to and more supportive of each other.
Is It Any Good?
He writes, directs, produces, stars, sometimes even performs music in some episodes, so it's curious that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's central character feels pretty blank in this fitfully arresting series. Gordon-Levitt is a talented creator, that much is clear; Mr. Corman is at its best when the titular teacher is engaging in spirited classroom discussions with his fifth graders, and in the moments when the show takes surreal flights of fancy to focus on a musical duet between Corman and his mom, or following Corman into a colorful fantasy of outer space as an infuriated woman slaps him through an imaginary glass window and into orbit. It's also no surprise that Gordon-Levitt is a relatable performer, or that solid cast members like Arturo Castro and Debra Winger contribute stout, lived-in performers.
Perhaps the problem is that even though Corman is surrounded by interesting characters, he seems most focused on himself: a vaguely dissatisfied thirtysomething man-boy who doesn't appreciate all that he has and wonders if this is all there is. It feels like we already know this character, we've already seen from him and heard from him in a spectacular variety of comedies and dramas all celebrating a coming of age that's, in Corman's case, rather shockingly late. The camera always centers Corman in its frame; when he talks to others, they seem mainly focused on what he's doing and thinking rather than discussing their own lives. Mr. Corman has its moments; it isn't a complete swing and a miss, but mostly lacks the insight to bring freshness to characters and dilemmas we've seen too many times already.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.