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 mature-audience-oriented cartoon contains edgy jokes about fat kids, mentally ill people, sex, criminal activity, radiation and cancer, drinking and drugs, and a host of other titillating subjects. Episodes often involve violence, such as when a monster attacks the compound and kills most of the crew. Most of the violence is off screen, but descriptions of blood and gore are vivid.
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What's the story?
SEALAB 2021 is a quirky animated cartoon for teens and adults that's based on the 1970s Hanna-Barbera children's cartoon Sealab 2020. Combining footage from the original show with some original animation, the series follows the strange, sometimes-violent mishaps of an underwater crew of misfits. To explain the transition from the show's original, innocent version to its edgy, mature update, the storyline introduces a gradual insanity taking over the crew of the Sealab -- a collection of professionals that includes a marine biologist, engineer, and radio operator. The motley crew regularly encounters aliens, evil robots, amorphous monsters, and other strange entities -- all while undergoing personal crises like brain tumors; on-again, off-again sexual relationships; and murder plots. Many characters are supremely idiotic, particularly Captain Hazel \"Hank\" Murphy (voiced by Harry Goz) who's far from an ideal leader and often seems oblivious to what's going on around him.
Is it any good?
The show's humor is decidedly edgy; some might say it even pushes the limits of good taste. For example, in one episode, the crew wraps a child who is part-human and part-dolphin in raw meat to lure a monster away from everyone else. The crew refers to the boy with a variety of colorful, derogatory synonyms for "fat." Other episodes feature jokes about sensitive topics like affirmative action and disabilities -- including one chair-bound character's exhortation that he's not crippled, but lazy. Obviously, situations like these are meant to be jokes -- perhaps even spoofs of other shows where the prejudices are more underground. But not everyone will find them funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the effect of using innocent material to address edgier subjects. What is the effect of seeing children's cartoons with adult content? Can you think of songs, other tv shows, or anything else that's been transformed from kid fare to grown-up material? How do you feel about these types of transformations?
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