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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 workplace comedy mainly targets adults, although older teens can likely handle the content, which generally hints at cheeky topics without getting too rowdy. Audible language includes "hell" and "damn," and there's some sexual innuendo involving an ongoing flirtation between co-workers who are "friends with benefits," in addition to jokes built around drinking and prescription drug use.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
On the brink of turning 40, Sunshine Center sports complex manager Ben (Matthew Perry) begins to wonder whether he'll ever be happy. But how can he when, in truth, he doesn't really care about anything -- not to mention the fact that he spends most of his time putting out fires set by his unpredictable boss (Allison Janney) and trying to find a suitable position for her well-meaning son (Nate Torrence)? There's even more at stake, however, when Ben learns that his "friend with benefits" (Andrea Anders) is in a relationship with a former sports star (James Lesure), who just so happens to be a genuinely nice guy.
Is it any good?
In an oddly analogous way, MR. SUNSHINE is a lot like The Muppet Show. In one episode, a put-upon Ben makes a Kermit-esque effort to manage a literal three-ring circus (complete with a visiting troupe of clowns), pull his boss down from a prescription-drug high, and sort out his feelings for a pretty co-worker, all the while working through technical issues so the show can go on that night and planning for the arrival of the Sunshine Center's next big act. It's no wonder he's unhappy. (But as a certain frog once said, it's not easy being green.)
Viewers don't get a rotating roster of guest stars, talking pigs, or song-and-dance numbers. But with Mr. Sunshine, we do get a genuinely funny look at the behind-the-scenes mayhem that goes into bringing large-scale entertainment to the masses. And the show boasts strong writing and spot-on casting (with stand-out work from Janney, Lesure, and Anders). But will teens relate to the midlife quandaries and workplace dramas of Mr. Sunshine? The forecast is cloudy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about workplace relationships, particularly the challenges and risks involved with dating someone you work with. Is it a good idea to start a relationship with someone you work with? What can go wrong?
Is Ben a character we're supposed to sympathize with or slightly despise? How does he measure up as a role model -- and how does he compare to Alonzo?
Are some people inherently happier than others, or is happiness something you have to work at? Do you consider yourself to be a happy person?