Prince of Peoria

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Prince of Peoria TV Poster Image
So-so buddy comedy plays on teens' mismatched personalities.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The series intends to entertain rather than to educate.

 

Positive Messages

Teddy's resistance to Emil fades after he takes the time to get to know him, and although the two boys are polar opposites, their friendship behooves both of them. For Emil, it helps him fulfill his dream of a normal American teen experience; for Teddy, Emil forces him out of his comfort zone and into some surprisingly fun and formative situations. At times Teddy's interest in robotics becomes the punch line to jokes, but he takes it seriously, works hard, and is motivated to succeed. The fact that Sydney has two moms is mentioned several times, as is the recent death of Teddy's father. Some characters talk about lying to parents to go to parties.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Regina respects Teddy's serious nature and determined life plans, but she forces him to lighten up by bringing Emil into his life. Teddy eventually warms to his new roommate and joins him in some silly escapades that he does enjoy, but he remains focused on his future goals. Emil is all about embracing life, making friends, and trying new things.

 

Violence & Scariness

Some painful pranks, as when Emil hits Teddy in the groin for a "turkey tap" or a girl slaps a classmate's face for saying something she didn't like. No lasting injury or malicious intent.

 

Sexy Stuff

Teddy's crush on Sydney causes him to stumble on his words around her and look longingly at her from afar. Innuendo and misunderstandings hint at topics like masturbation; in one scene, Emil mistranslates Teddy's intent to stay home from a party by telling Sydney that he would rather "stay in his room and play with himself." Slang terms for genitalia, such as "walnuts." References to graphic drawings in a high schooler's locker. Regina is attracted to Joosep, who seems oblivious to the crush.

 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Prince of Peoria is a sitcom geared toward tweens that centers on an unlikely friendship between an industrious American teen and his fun-loving prince-in-disguise exchange student. Many aspects of the teen experience as seen in entertainment exist in this story; classmates crush on and date each other, there's innuendo and double entendre (including one instance that hints at masturbation by suggesting a character will "play with himself"), mild teen rebellion, locker room-style skirmishes (a towel fight and "turkey taps" to the groin), and social classes in high school. It's also mentioned in passing that a supporting character has two moms, and that a main character is still getting past the death of his father. The fact that Teddy has big goals for his future sometimes becomes the punch line of jokes at his expense, but it doesn't deter him from his passions.

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What's the story?

In PRINCE OF PEORIA, a studious American teen and a mischievous foreign prince forge an unlikely friendship when the latter arrives posing as an exchange student. The story opens with two stories -- that of Teddy (Theodore Barnes), a hardworking high schooler with a passion for robotics; and that of Emil (Gavin Lewis), a coddled Buronian prince whose impression of American life is gleaned from internet videos of buddy pranksters. Emil's birthday wish to come stateside coincides with mom Regina's (Cynthia Kaye McWilliams) desire to encourage Teddy to make friends, and the prince arrives to live incognito among his American peers and soak up the life of an average teen. In other words, exactly the opposite of what Teddy wants.

Is it any good?

If you think this plot sounds familiar, you're probably right. It's a fairly straightforward rework of Coming to America, complete with the eager prince's exaggerated naivety about everything from basic social graces to language nuances. (Odd, considering English seems to be the official Buronian tongue as well.) The story plays up the main characters' contrasting personalities, which is fun for a while but eventually casts Teddy as whiny and rigid compared to the outgoing and totally unserious (thus really, really fun) Emil. As Emil draws Teddy out of his shell and revels in having found a best friend, Teddy does being to enjoy the new experiences it offers, but he finds it difficult to balance that with the work and goals that are his passion.

From a tween's point of view, though, that probably won't matter. What they will see instead are some utterly ridiculous predicaments that delight one teen and irritate the other, and prey on that divide for laughs. There's also some physical humor, budding romance between a popular girl and an underdog, and a goofy royal guard (Gabriel Hogan) who pops up now and then to ensure his majesty's safety and continued anonymity. In other words, Prince of Peoria won't wow parents, but that's because it's designed for tweens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Teddy and Emil discover about friendship in Prince of Peoria. Is true friendship possible in every instance of people meeting? Is it vital to have some common ground for a good friendship? What character strengths do you look for in friends? What are some of your strengths that you offer in return?

  • What impressions of American teens and friendship does Emil get from watching the internet? Do you think the internet does society a disservice in the messages it sends about us and how we spend our time? In what ways does the internet improve our lives? What threats exist with it? Is it an even trade?  

  • Does this series paint an accurate picture of life as an American teen? What struggles do you see at play in the real world that aren’t reflected in this series? What other shows have you seen that are more realistic?

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