Strangers with Candy
By Jill Murphy,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
After school-special spoof is an acquired taste.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Jerri is a former junkie, prostitute, and jailbird who makes multiple references to her past behavior "in the joint." She's always happy to ditch her dorky friends in favor of the popular kids. The teachers are far from models of good behavior. The show as a whole is designed to send up the neat lessons of corny after school specials.
Violence & Scariness
Physical comedy, but all harmless.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Blatant sexual innuendoes ("I like the pole and the hole"); sloppy kissing for the gross-out factor. Jerri hits on both boys and girls.
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Derogatory remarks can be offensive, including "fag", "p--sy", "whore."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Smoking weed, and some drinking. Lots of references to past drug use.
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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.
Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
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HYPOCRITE! THIS SHOW ROCKS!
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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.
- Premiere date: April 7, 1999
- Cast: Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert
- Network: Comedy Central
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
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