One Big Happy

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
One Big Happy TV Poster Image
Best friends procreate; strained laughs ensue in stale show.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Bonds of love unite the characters on the show. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are usually kind to and respectful of one another, but they're so jokey and quippy it's hard to take them seriously. 


Jokes about suicide (hanging). 


Many jokes about masturbation, body parts, bodily fluids, cross-dressing, sexual orientation. A woman bounces around nude (private parts are blurred) and forcibly hugs another character she insists is uptight. Two friends (not a couple) intentionally have a child together. 


Mild cursing, often colloquially: "What the hell?" "That's like a bitch calling a bitch a bitch." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes take place in bars at which characters drink beer, wine, and cocktails. Jokes about drinking. Jokes about "needing" a drink or ordering a drink as a prelude to "getting crazy." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that One Big Happy is a multi-camera sitcom about an unusual family unit: a man, his wife, and his gay best friend, who's pregnant with his child. Humor is unthreatening but somewhat earthy: There are frequent jokes about body parts, bodily fluids, sexual orientation, cross-dressing, conception, and other topics that may give parents of young children pause. Some cursing, generally mild: "dammit" and "hell." There are jokes about consequence-free sex, and a character appears on-screen nude but with private parts blurred. A character jokes about committing suicide as an extreme reaction to a stressful situation. Many scenes take place in bars; characters drink wine and beer and joke about needing a drink to relax or let loose. 

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What's the story?

Longtime best friends Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) and Luke (Nick Zano) had an agreement: If neither of them had kids by the time they were 30, they'd procreate platonically together (she's gay, he's not). But just as their efforts (literally) bear fruit, the whimsical Prudence (Kelly Brook) breezes into their lives, in need of a way to avoid deportation back to her native England. One trip to Vegas later and the trio is ONE BIG HAPPY. No one is exactly sure how Prudence will fit into Lizzy and Luke's plan, how Luke will transform from a goofball into a responsible father, or how the picky and uptight Lizzy is going to stand a new woman in her house and in her life. But they're ready to give it a shot. 

Is it any good?

Hey, what do you say when you go to pick up a prescription at the drugstore? "I'm here to pick up a prescription for [your last name]," right? Something like that. Not on this show. Here, Elisha Cuthbert (showing some sass as Lizzy despite the awful writing) says to the pharmacist, "I’m here to pick up my prenatal prescription right now I'm pre-prenatal but I hope to be natal very soon!" Then Luke swans up behind her, loudly proclaiming, "I bought a bunch of pregnancy tests!" as the laugh track swells. Talk about obvious.

NBC may possibly be trying to recapture its glory days with an old-school-style sitcom with a gimmicky setup and a bunch of attractive actors brushing up against each other. But, despite the relative charm of the cast, it ain't working. This show never knew an obvious joke it didn't reach for; for example, the moment a pregnancy test appears on-screen, you know a joke about pee is soon to follow. But One Big Happy isn't content with one obvious and cliché pee joke, it goes for three. Producer Ellen DeGeneres' desire to make a fun show about a nontraditional family is valid, but One Big Happy tries way too hard. The only laughter you'll hear here is the overused laugh track. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • What do you think of the premise of One Big Happy? Is it a realistic setup? Do you know any nontraditional families like these? Do they act, live, or talk like these characters? 

  • NBC was once the go-to network for ensemble comedies: Friends, The Office, Will & Grace, Scrubs, Seinfeld. Does One Big Happy fit in with the tradition of these comedies? How? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sitcom-style laughs

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