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Strangers with Candy
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 satirical comedy (which has a strong cult fanbase) contains mature humor and is geared toward adults. Jokes are crude and can be racially, sexually, and socially offensive. The series' intention is to poke fun at the ridiculous nature of the after school specials and "very special episodes" that were so popular in the '70s and '80s.
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What's the story?
Created by Sedaris, Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report, The Daily Show) and Paul Dinello, STRANGERS WITH CANDY positions itself as a spoof on the once-popular after school specials of the '70s and '80s. The show describes its main character, Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris), as "a boozer, a user, and a two-time loser" -- she's a 46-year-old ex-prostitute and former junkie who, after being released from prison, decides to pick up where she left off -- high school. So it's not surprising that Jerri is picked on by everyone in school, including art teacher Mr. Jellineck (Dinello), science teacher Mr. Noblet (Colbert), and Principal Onyx Blackman (Greg Hollimon). Jerri quickly comes to the realization that after being a teenage runaway for 32 years and returning to high school, "the faces may have changed, but the hassles are still the same." Each episode of Strangers with Candy ends with another twisted lesson Jerri has learned, always described in her own words.
Is it any good?
In its short run (1999-2000; it still airs in reruns and is available on DVD), Strangers with Candy became a cult favorite and attracted variety of guest stars, including Will Ferrell, Winona Ryder, and Steve Carell (The Office). A big-screen version hit theaters in June 2006.
The series can be offensive on a number of levels -- it almost seems like Sedaris' goal to mock as many groups and institutions as possible -- but keep in mind that it's intended for mature viewers. If you like Sedaris' brand of humor, you'll probably dig the show, but it's definitely not for everyone.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the series' off-beat brand of humor. Is it smart, sarcastic, or over the top? Why is making fun of something considered funny, and when does mocking go too far? Is Jerri funny or repulsive? Why? Do any of the subjects dealt with in the show come up in teens' own lives? How do they deal with them? Teens may need a brief intro to the history of after school specials.