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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Splitting Up Together is a comedy about parents who decide to divorce and uphold a "bird's nest" arrangement where the kids stay in the family home and parents alternate weeks living there with the kids. Most of the possibly objectionable content in this show arrives in the form of humor about sex or violence: A woman accidentally texts her son a "winky" face, which a friend refers to as "sexting," a man deeply in love with his wife says he'd kill himself if she left him. Expect jokes about masturbation, casual sex, marital sex, body parts, romance. Language is infrequent, with little cursing. A joke in which a woman asks "What the f--k was that?" with her mouth blurred and the sound bleeped is the exception to this rule, but in general language is of the "crap," "balls," and "screw" variety. Adults drink beer or wine socially; no one acts drunk. Parents and family members argue, but they're supportive when someone needs help. Teens and tweens are given space to work out their problems with caring and understanding parents.
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What's the story?
Once upon a time, Lena (Jenna Fischer) and Martin (Oliver Hudson) were madly in love. But when responsibilities and obligations took the place of desire and romance, they both stopped enjoying their marriage. Now they have a new plan for their lives: They're SPLITTING UP TOGETHER, with kids Mae (Olivia Keville), Mason (Van Crosby), and Milo (Sander Thomas) staying in the family home, and the parents alternating weeks living in the house or in the garage. It's not a situation many would find easy to navigate. But with Lena and Martin experiencing both a new freedom as well as a burgeoning respect and appreciation for each other, one question stands out: Could splitting up be the very thing that brings them back together?
Is it any good?
When a miserable couple decides to call it quits on their marriage but not their co-parenting partnership, an enjoyable something-for-everybody comedy is born. Watching a show about a family that's breaking apart sounds like a great big bummer, but Splitting Up Together manages to lighten the tension with great gags. Mae, Lena and Martin's acerbic teenage daughter, gets some of the best lines. When her mother discovers that Martin has been sending the kids to school with money to buy lunch instead of packing it for them, Mae cops to saving her money to buy a cup from the "Young Feminist Caucus" (which reads "Male Tears"). For his part, Martin's been enjoying his freedom from Lena's demands by rediscovering his "collection of ugly hats," and turning off the dehumidifier she insists be left constantly running.
Raising kids together without being together is a natural source of comedic complications: Who takes care of what? Where does the responsibility of one parent end and another begin? Is it even possible to start dating again when your ex lives just a couple of hundred feet away and knows your every coming and going? Should this couple even be splitting up at all, given that their new living arrangement is forcing them to communicate and work with each other even more than they did before? But make no mistake, this show is no "will they or won't they?" sitcom scenario. Together, Lena and Martin are far less interesting than struggling apart -- and the more they struggle, the more you'll enjoy watching. Try this one on with your teens and/or mature tweens; it just may catch on.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Splitting Up Together compares to other family-centered shows. Does the content seem more or less realistic than others? Do the central relationships seem nontraditional to you? How are they different from other sitcom families?
How does the media portray relationships in general? Is it ever appropriate to use stereotypes as a way of portraying them? Why do you think topics such as unplanned pregnancy, divorce, sex, and sexual identity are dealt with so frequently on TV shows and in movies?
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