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 edgy teen drama series openly discusses a range of complex topics, including sex, sexual orientation, adoption, loss of virginity, dating, and cyberbullying. Characters use mature language, and both dialogue and characters are sexually charged.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
At the heart of SOUTH OF NOWHERE is the Carlin family: teenage Spencer (Gabrielle Christian); her older brother, Glen (Chris Hunter); their adopted brother, Clay (Danso Gordon); and their parents, Arthur and Paula (Rob Moran and Maeve Quinlan). Like Beverly Hills, 90210's Walsh clan before them, the Carlins relocated from the Midwest to Los Angeles, only to discover that they were unprepared for their diverse, eclectic new community. Glen -- a jock and a stud with the ladies -- dates the highly sexualized head cheerleader, Madison (Valery Ortiz). Spencer has found a best friend in Ashley (Mandy Musgrave), who has come out as a lesbian. The sexual tension between Ashley and Spencer is on a constant incline, despite Ashley's purported straightness. Clay faces a separate, unique set of challenges -- convincing people that he's truly content being an adopted African-American in a white family ... and a virgin, to boot. Aiden (Matt Cohen), Ashley's ex-boyfriend and the school basketball star, and Sean (Austen Parros), the smart kid with all the potential who often runs with a bad crowd, round out the cast.
Is it any good?
Though reflective of modern teen issues (dealing with friendships, discovering sexual orientation, dating, having sex, maintaining a reputation), South of Nowhere is a little indulgent in its sexual connotations and sexually charged characters and behaviors -- at least from an adult's perspective. But it's likely accurate. Parents could benefit from watching a program like this, with or without their teens. It offers a quick lesson in the importance teens put on privacy, IMing, texting, having sex, fitting in, coping with first crushes, and dealing with stereotypes, cliques, and friendships. Each character seems to embrace more than a few typical stereotypes, perhaps to ensure that all viewers will have someone or something to relate to. Thanks to good writing and strong performances, it's actually a successful recipe.
Overall, the series is a nice blend of modern teen life for mature teen viewers and the traditional dating and high school behavior adults might better relate to. And while South of Nowhere certainly isn't lacking in overtly flirty glances, occasional zoom shots of body language, ultra-short skirts, and super-low necklines, it actually lands on the map somewhere between the raciness of The O.C. and the edgy grittiness of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's reality level. Do its scenarios and characters reflect real teens' everyday life? What ideas about style, sex, dating, and friendship do teens get from this program? Have any kids at their school come out? If so, how are they accepted and treated? Another interesting topic might be adoption. How do you think Clay feels? What would it be like to be a minority in your own family?