Mulaney

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Mulaney TV Poster Image
Forgettable sitcom with adult humor, some stereotyping.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Positive messages aren't the focus of this comedy series whose characters often come across as superficial. The show mines everything from personality quirks to race for its laughs. Some homosexual stereotyping.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None stands out as a person worth emulating. Vanity, laziness, irresponsibility, and dishonesty are character traits that yield jokes. 

Violence
Sex

Sexuality is a frequent topic of conversation and jokes, but physical contact is limited. 

Language

"Bitch," "ass," and "hell," mostly. Some name-calling such as "idiot." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A recurring character is said to be a small-time drug dealer who provides his friends with pot. Some laughs about drug use and its effects on users' behavior. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mulaney is a sitcom that centers on a group of young adult friends, so jokes sometimes reference mature themes such as sexuality and race issues, always in a lighthearted way. Strong language is a bit of a concern ("bitch," "ass," and "hell" are common), and you'll see and hear some mild stereotyping of homosexuals and references to recreational drug use. No character stands out as remarkably positive, even if their friendships seem to suit one another's needs. 

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What's the story?

MULANEY is a sitcom starring comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney as a moderately successful version of his real self. The show opens with a brief stand-up bit from John before delving into his (on-screen) life off the stage -- time spent with his roommates, Motif (Seaton Smith) and Jane (Nasim Pedrad); his eccentric neighbor, Oscar (Elliott Gould); and his weed-dealing buddy, André (Zack Pearlman). John also works part-time writing material for the aging comic-turned-game-show-host Lou Cannon (Martin Short). 

Is it any good?

First things first: If you think Mulaney's set-up sounds a little familiar, you're not wrong. It's a shameless copy job of one of TV's all-time great comedies in Seinfeld, from the titular character name to the four-person nucleus of characters whose mundane lives are mined for laughs. Here again is a sitcom about nothing, but whereas that classic misdirection clicked in all the right ways for Seinfeld, it misses the mark entirely in this laborious show that does little justice to the talents of its proven cast and the main star in particular.

The news isn't all bad, though. Martin Short's presence rescues several scenes as only the work of a comic genius can, and Mulaney's stand-up bits -- a far better venue for his skills than the canned dialogue quips -- are worthy of respect as well. There's a genuinely funny, if acerbic, nature to the characters' relationships as well (another Seinfeld marker, of course). But at the end of the day, the sitcom genre is a cutthroat environment, and it's tough to succeed on a recycled idea and a star who's out of his element in this kind of role. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the examples the characters set. Do they make good decisions? Do they work hard? What are their life goals? 

  • Does the nature of comedy forgive taking jabs at people based on their appearances or life choices? Is it ever OK to make fun of these kinds of things? Can a message be interpreted different ways depending on the person delivering it? 

  • What are some of your favorite sitcoms? How has the content of what's on TV and in movies changed over the past few decades? What kinds of subjects (sex, language, nontraditional relationships) are more accepted now than they used to be?

TV details

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