The reason parents should talk to their children about the CONTEXT of programming, not just content.
Any one who has watched the show will affirm this: this is inappropriate for young children and teens. However, this is only shown on AdultSwims late night block now, and if then only one 11 minute episode as compared to the hour-long blocks of FOX-produced cartoons (Seth McFarlane shows and Bob's Burgers). Older teens will likely come across this program, but from a longtime fan it is my opinion that when a parent finds their child has been watching this that they take some time to really figure out the context of what is occuring on the show. The central character, Early Cuyler, may be the stereotype of a rural Southern man, but hopefully it becomes very evident this is a caricature of the rural South and its people. Produced in Georgia out of AdultSwim's Williams Street, the creators are from the South and have made a good deal of the show a love letter to the music, culture, and contemporary problems that the rural South experiences. One episode in the earliest season (and redone for one of the most recent as well) uses the biological reality of squid hermaphroditism to parse the stereotypical fear of transgender or gender-ambiguity that many expect from the South. In both instances, Early expresses anger stemming from the fear of what he does not understand but cools off once the tables have turned and it becomes his issues put under a microscope. Racial injustice and the underlying tension between the South and minority communities is also constantly played with; one episode ("Southern Pride and Prejudice") focuses on the very topical controversy surrounding the popularity of the Confederate flag in these communities. In this episode, Early and his family support the display of the flag until pulling a 180 when they learn that the Appalachian mud-squids were an enslaved species in the Civil War-era South (including a quick gag where what appears to be a hateful slur is quickly revealed to be a slur for the squid, but still just as hateful).
Additionally, the writing is so well done and self-aware, that it should be very helpful for parents of teens who like this show to see that there are actual morals being offered to the viewer, of course none that the characters of the show are willing to recognize or acquiesce too. In a way, this show also portrays these areas as the victims they truly are in modern life: the show's Dougal County suffers from corrupt local officials, over-bearing and hypocritical religious figure heads, and a widespread lack of encouragement to pursue education which is of course played for laughs initially. Ideally though, these instances leave thew viewer with a pit in their stomach with the revelation that this is not that far off from the experiences of those living in truly impoverished areas of the rural South. In a word, this is satire, and all good satire is able to punch at the audience as being complicit in the problems presented to them as entertainment. I encourage any parent who finds their child watching this to watch it for themselves and to talk to their child about it, especially with concerns to those episodes dealing with topical subject matter, especially as the recent season premiere wherein the secondary lead Rusty Cuyler is unjustly convicted for murder and sentenced to death, echoing the state of many of America's minority youths prosecuted because of police prejudice and incompetence. This show is very appropriate in context, but the content is so shocking at times it is very important to communicate the real issues this show is playing with. The inappropriate behaviors of the characters are contextualized as both the result of their being victims of a broken system, but also their refusal to accept such and thus express a desire to victimize others. The show, taken in strides, is a fantastic role model for what is NOT appropriate, but with any such media it is important as a parent to separate the slim fantasy that is at the surface from the very real issues that underline the shows direction and writing.
This title contains:
Positive role models
Violence & scariness
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking