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 fantasy drama focuses on a fairly typical family -- overworked parents and busy teens who sometimes seem to have little time for each other -- who begin to develop superpowers. Yes, there’s some crimefighting, but the main thrust of the show is how this incredible event can bring them all closer together. There’s some mild swearing (including words like "whore" and "dumbass"), violence (including guns and shooting), and several references to sex -- notably from the teen daughter and her friends, who talk about who's a virgin and who isn't.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jim Powell (Michael Chiklis) is starting to feel like his family is drifting apart. His wife is a high-powered biotech executive, and his teenage son and daughter always seem to be busy with homework, extracurricular activities, and texting. He misses the togetherness they once had and can’t find a way to bring them all together. Then, after a freak accident during a family vacation, they all start to develop amazing new powers. Jim becomes super strong, while his workaholic wife, Stephanie (Julie Benz), acquires super speed. Their daughter, Daphne (Kay Panabaker), can now read minds, and son JJ (Jimmy Bennett) has become a super genius. While figuring out how to live with these powers isn't as easy as it seems, it might help bring the Powells closer.
Is it any good?
NO ORDINARY FAMILY is certainly no ordinary superhero series. Yes, there’s some crime-fighting -- can you imagine a show about super-powered people who don’t capture bad guys? But the focus here is more on how an average family tries to adapt to a very unusual situation. Besides criminals, there are dramas at school and conflicts at work with and spats at home -- you know, real life. These characters seem just like anyone else, except for their new abilities.
Chiklis is in familiar territory. He already looks larger than life, and he’s already played a super strong hero, the Thing, in the movie version of Fantastic Four. But the look of wonder that comes over his face as Jim starts to grasp his new capabilities is pure fun. Panabaker also stands out as a mind-reading teen who quickly learns that hearing her classmates' inner thoughts is both enlightening and painful. Jim thinks his family is drifting apart -- and he hopes he can use his super strength to pull everyone back together. It’s an intriguing premise -- and an insightful perspective on the busy modern family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about superhero stories. How does this series compare to standard superhero tales? What do the Powells get out of their powers?
Do you think the family seems realistic? Does the show do a good job of portraying high school life?
Do you think it’s common for busy families to suddenly realize that they don’t actually spend much time together? What contributes to that feeling? Is your family ever like that?
What role does technology play in today's family life?