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South Side

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
South Side TV Poster Image
Sharp social commentary, language in hilarious series.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

As the residents of the neighborhood struggle to succeed or just get by, they demonstrate perseverance, even when they skirt or break the law. K and Simon's teamwork is clear, too -- they stick together in good times or bad. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are doing their best under very trying circumstances and intentions are noble even if not every action is. Simon and K work ceaselessly on improving their financial situation, in ways both generally positive (trying to get better-paid jobs) and otherwise (selling illicit Viagra). Corrupt police officer Turner is a (mostly) benign villain, accepting bribes cheerfully and arguing with her more straitlaced partner over her misdeeds. 

Violence

Violence is often played for laughs, but carries with it political/social commentary, like when a man attempting to evade repossession of a video game system shoots a hapless Rent-T-Own employee with a crossbow. 

Sex

References to and jokes about sex can be ribald, like when a police officer goes after a suspect because she wants to "get that dick." In another scene, Simon and K go to a party where women gyrate in brief outfits and one dances upside down on a pole. When Simon leaves with a woman to have sex as a friend urges him to take a Viagra because she's "going to eat you alive." 

Language

Language is relatively frequent, usually used comedically: "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," "hell," "balls," "f--k" is bleeped. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink, and the selling of an illicit prescription drug (Viagra) is a main plot point. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that South Side is a comedy about people who live and work in a gritty Chicago neighborhood. The show's writers and creators are from the neighborhood they write about, and their deep knowledge shows in empathetic jokes that don't punch down but mine comedy from difficult, sometimes tragic situations: violence, poverty, racism, the failure of governmental agencies to help and protect those they serve. Violence and sexual content is infrequent but can be mature, like a scene in which a man doing a tough job is shot with a crossbow, and one in which a man leaves a party with a woman to have sex and is urged to take Viagra to keep up with her. Language is frequent: "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," "ass," "hell," though "f--k" is bleeped. Characters demonstrate perseverance and teamwork, doing their best to succeed or just stay afloat in difficult circumstances. 

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What's the story?

It took eight long years, but Simon (Sultan Salahuddin) and K (Kareme Young) have graduated from Kenny King's community college in Chicago's SOUTH SIDE, and they're ready to take on the world. But until they do, they're stuck working at the Rent-T-Own, the dead-end business where the residents of the neighborhood meet and K's twin Quincy (real-life brother Quincy Young) is equally stuck trying to motivate his dead-eyed employees. K and Simon always have a scheme for moving on up, from a clandestine street corner popcorn business to dealing black market Viagra right out of the Rent-T-Own. Too bad the neighborhood's beat cops Sergeant Turner (Chandra Russell) and Officer Goodnight (Bashir Salahuddin) have eyes out for the pair, as if the realities of their neighborhood weren't enough to crush their dreams. 

Is it any good?

Sharply observed and absolutely hysterical, this brilliant show is destined to be Chicago's finest export since deep-dish. Co-creators Bashir and Sultan Salahuddin are brothers and native Chicagoans, and it shows -- South Side's fast-paced comedy is packed with insider jokes that will send most viewers scrambling to look up detailed references to Kanye West, Coretta Scott King, and Carl Winslow (we'll save you the search: he was the bumbling cop dad on Family Matters). What fun, to have your intelligence trusted by writers who understand that those who want to will educate themselves on just what's being ably mocked, while some are content to just go with the flow and wait for the next joke. It won't be long, because South Side's the type of series where you're laughing so uproariously at one line that you miss two others. 

Police corruption, cycles of poverty, and the desperate tactics the downtrodden sometimes resort to while staying afloat aren't common topics for comedy, and in less sure hands, South Side could be a great big bummer of a drama. But the show's empathy and feel for its characters doesn't stand in the way of the comedy. When officers Turner and Goodnight show up to Rent-T-Own to talk to its employees about local crime, Turner assures the crowd "We are not here to beat anyone today," and leaves discreetly before Quincy collects an "honorarium" of $10 from each employee to bribe them into actually doing their jobs. After getting hired and fired for his first white-collar job, Simon rhapsodizes to K about the experience: "The microwave worked! The plants were alive, so alive! They had doughnuts! I had my own email address!" Englewood may be known as  tough neighborhood, but with the Salahuddins as ambassadors, it feels like home. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how South Side makes serious topics like poverty and racism funny. How is it possible to laugh at things that in real life are tragic? Does the edge of truth make the comedy more or less funny? Does it make you think about why things are the way they are? Does comedy ever create social change? How? 

  • Workplace comedies are relatively common. Which can you name? How is South Side alike or different from these shows or movies? Why is an office or a store a fertile setting for a comedic narrative? 

  • How do Simon and K demonstrate teamwork and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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