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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, like the original '90s series it reboots, Party of Five is a drama about five kids, ranging from a twentysomething to a baby, who are left without their parents. This time around, though, the parents don't die; they're deported to Mexico. Expect to see scenes in which parents are forcibly pulled away from their kids as a young girl screams for her mom and dad. All of that may be alarming for younger viewers and could spark family conversations about immigration law and the toll it takes on individuals and families. But characters aren't in danger of going hungry or becoming homeless, and though the older kids must make sacrifices to care for their younger siblings, they also have resources and are up to the task. Romance is a strong element of the show's drama; expect love triangles (some with same-sex attractions), flirting, dating, kissing, and references to casual sex. Teens drink at a party without consequences. At another party, a character is asked by a teen if he's the "weed guy," and a partygoer smokes something (it's hard to tell what). Language is infrequent but includes "s--t," "hell," "bulls--t," "goddamn," and "ass." Most of the cast members are Latinx, and they speak Spanish frequently. Tight-knit family relationships anchor the drama, and though characters aren't without flaws, they also show teamwork and self-control in pulling together to make their family work while separated.
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What's the story?
Based on the family drama of the same name that ran from 1994 to 2000, PARTY OF FIVE the reboot shifts the story's action from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where the Acosta family is ripped apart when ICE raids the family's restaurant. When Javier (Bruno Bichir) and Gloria (Fernanda Urrejola) emigrated to the United States from Mexico, they didn't exactly do it legally. So now they've been deported, leaving their five children to fend for themselves until the family can find a way to be together again. In his early twenties, Emilio (Brandon Larracuente) has to step into his parents' shoes to run the restaurant, while teen twins Lucia (Emily Tosta) and Beto (Niko Guardado) have to pick up the slack at home for 12-year-old Valentina (Elle Paris Legaspi) and their infant brother Rafael.
Is it any good?
The original remains a '90s classic for its silly-yet-sincere plotlines and crush-worthy leads, and the reboot has the same appeal and a modern spin with the immigration setup. And since the elder Acostas are still alive (unlike the Salinger parents in the '90s version), there's plenty of drama to be milked from their absence: will the family be able to live together again? How? And how will it affect the kids to be living basically on their own, but have Mom and Dad peeking in via Skype to check their work? Still, though the scenes of Mom and Dad Acosta being torn from their kids are rightfully heartrending, this series would go nowhere if everything else wasn't up to snuff, but thankfully it is.
It probably helps that original creators and writers Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser are returning for this Party of Five; they've still got it, and viewers will find themselves gripped by storylines that would read as manipulative in less sure hands. Fans can expect a lot of the same complications to be found on other teen-heavy dramas (love triangles, conflicts at school, arguments about parties and late nights), but the sweet interplay between the Acosta family members, and the great weight of what their younger members have agreed to take on adds emotional heft to the proceedings, and makes it connect, with new fans and the already-converted.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why parents are often absent in stories about teens and young children. What types of storytelling would the presence of parents inhibit? What types of dilemmas do children and teens find themselves in when they must act as their own authority? Does Party of Five make its situation look challenging? Glamorous? Both?
Did you watch the original Party of Five? How is this version different? What changes were made to the setting, storylines, characters? How did that change what we see on the screen? Why would the creators have made these changes?
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