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 series features New York City writer and icon Fran Lebowitz getting interviewed. It's directed by Martin Scorsese, but it's nothing like his award-winning violent movies. Instead, his camera is focused on his friend Lebowitz, whose observations about the city and its people can be cutting. Lebowitz uses a few swear words ("f--k," "hell") sparingly. She talks about smoking lovingly, and is frank about her opinions, which are often very funny.
What's the story?
PRETEND IT'S A CITY, the second documentary that director Martin Scorsese has made about his friend Fran Lebowitz, follows the famously curmudgeonly writer around New York's streets, as well as through a model of New York that was created for the 1964 World's Fair. In addition to new conversations Scorsese conducted with Lebowitz in an old-school bar, we see clips of their public appearances together and interviews she's done over the years with Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, and Olivia Wilde. Lebowitz's wit is on display in six episodes that cover (to name just a few topics) the internet, Times Square, music, subways, taxis, sports, and money.
Is it any good?
Even if you don't cherish Fran Lebowitz as Martin Scorsese does (he appears to adore every word and guffaws at every joke), three hours with her feels like an afternoon in New York with an astutely acerbic aunt. Pretend It's a City is a love letter to both Lebowitz and the New York she and Scorsese inhabit and exemplify. We see the writer, now in her 70s, stride down Manhattan streets with a level of comfort and familiarity that young people have mimicked for decades.
Lebowitz has remained a keen observer of the world around her, but she is proudly out of step with modern life; she famously doesn't use a mobile phone or the internet or a computer and instead has surrounded herself with 10,000 books. The series hits differently than it would have before the COVID-19 pandemic; even the most mundane interactions can feel nostalgic, as far off as the clips from Lebowitz decades ago. Here's hoping these two quintessential New Yorkers can make a third collaboration.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Lebowitz's rejection of computers, the internet, and cellphones. How do you think that changes her experience of the world?
What makes Lebowitz's comments funny? How do you think her humor would work in other parts of the country?
Lebowitz and Scorsese are old friends. How do you think that affects the documentary?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love comedy
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch