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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nobodies is a comedy about a trio of comics trying to get a movie project off the ground. The jokes are funny yet sometimes stray into off-color areas, with jokes about group sex, oral sex, consequence-free casual sex. Jokes also sometimes involve cursing and strong language: "s--t," "hell," "son of a bitch," "goddammit," "fart," a vulgar expression for oral sex. Since Nobodies stars comics playing themselves and talking about their real careers, many media companies, movies, TV shows, and actors are mentioned, sometimes with logos appearing onscreen: Paramount, the Groundlings, Jimmy Fallon, Arrested Development. Adults drink wine and liquor at gatherings; no one acts drunk but brands are sometimes name-checked. Violence is infrequent and serves comic/ironic purposes: a man accidentally injured during a basketball game is in no mood to hear about a potential movie project. Nonetheless, the tone is light, the plotting is brisk, and the show's trajectory has likeable, funny people striving for success.
What's the story?
Hugh (Hugh Davidson), Rachel (Rachel Ramras), and Larry (Larry Dorf) are heartily sick of seeing friends get rich and famous in Hollywood comic circles while they still remain NOBODIES. Sometimes it seems like all the people they ever worked with have gone on to fame and fortune, while Rachel, Larry, and Hugh are still waiting for their big break and toiling as writers on a little-known animated kids' show. But things might be different this time -- the trio has come up with an idea for a movie and written the script -- now all they have to do is convince one of their favorite friends to star in it, and sell it to a studio. And we all know how easy that is.
Is it any good?
Clever, snarky, and filled with "comedy mined from tragedy" setups, the series is a worthy entry into the "comics playing themselves" mini-genre. Unlike Louis CK or Jerry Seinfeld, Rachel, Hugh, and Larry are by no means at the top of their game, or even in the game, a fact that's made painfully clear by the show's opening scene in which the friends show up to perform at an improv show with more famous colleagues. Excited to see the show's poster along with stars like Maya Rudolph and Nat Faxon, they're quickly deflated when they see their own names weren't even included. No matter. It's just one humiliation in a string of many: producers who don't even bother to learn their names during a pitch meeting, admitting the embarassing title of the TV show they work on to a room full of more successful comics, a pickup basketball game that at first seems like a golden opportunity to give their script to a famous actor but ends in disaster.
It sounds like a drag to watch losers struggle, but the knowing, ironic writing and gags are top-shelf. Desperate to impress a producer at a pitch meeting, the three agree beforehand that they'll name-check their famous friends in a casual way, just to let the producer know that these are people to be reckoned with. Of course, this winds up in Larry immediately bringing up Melissa McCarthy (who produces Nobodies along with her husband, Ben Falcone), and Rachel explaining that they were in McCarthy's wedding, and knew Kristen Wiig "before she was Kristen Wiig." To quote Mel Brooks on the difference between laughs and pathos: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” Rachel, Hugh, and Larry keep climbing out of the sewer, only to fall back in -- and it's funny every single time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Rachel, Hugh, and Larry show courage and perseverance in Nobodies. Why are these important character strengths? How do these qualities contribute to their success (or lack thereof)?
How is Nobodies different from other shows about comics, such as Seinfeld, Maron, or Louie? Each presents lightly fictionalized versions of the comics' real personal and professional lives. Why do you think this is such a common theme for TV shows?
Do most comedies revolve around characters who are successful or unsuccessful? What is appealing about watching someone reach for -- but not attain -- power, money, and adulation? What comic possibilities does the search for success offer?
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