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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 strong language (though the worst of it is bleeped), obvious sexual innuendo, and partial nudity mean that this funny British sitcom about a lovingly dysfunctional family isn't for tweens and might be iffy for younger teens. That said, the show's hilarious take on the uncertainties of life with kids who are approaching independence is sure to give many empty-nesters (or those who sometimes wish they were empty-nesters ...) a lot of laughs.
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What's the story?
In the lighthearted British sitcom MY FAMILY, from U.S. writer Fred Barron (whose credits include Seinfeld and Caroline in the City), two parents traverse the highs and lows of life as their three kids enter adulthood and attempt to head out on their own. Ben Harper (Robert Lindsay) is an opinionated, outspoken man with a penchant for flying off the handle when he's irked -- but luckily he's met his match in his wisecracking wife, Susan (Zöe Wanamaker), who has a glib comeback for each of Ben's constant gripes and manages to smooth over even the roughest roads that their kids drag them down. Youngest son Michael (Gabriel Thomson) keeps trying to find himself by sampling everything from photography to born-again Christianity, but he usually only succeeds in trying his dad's patience. Middle child/shopaholic Janey (Daniela Denby-Ashe) went off to university in the third season, only to end up getting booted when she got pregnant; in more recent episodes, she spends most of her time with her young son at her parents' house. Only oldest child Nick (Kris Marshall) actually lives fully on his own ... though even that took some doing (he lived at home in the early seasons). Though Ben and Susan view their increasingly empty nest with varying levels of appreciation (he loves the newfound peace, but her arms are wide open whenever her babies come back home), they strive to strike a balance between being supportive of their kids and actually supporting them.
Is it any good?
While My Family doesn't really have any tips or pearls of wisdom for parents who can sympathize with the characters' woes, if you're in the mood for a show that really does put the "fun" in "dysfunction," it won't disappoint. Just be sure to turn it off around younger viewers, since strong language is often audible (despite bleeping), and nudity (mostly rear views) is a possibility.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own home life. How does your family compare to the Harpers? Teens, do you wish your parents were more or less like Ben and Susan? Are their parenting styles effective? How so? Do the characters seem believable? Why or why not? In general, how are TV families different from real-life ones? Do you think a more realistic family sitcom would be funny?