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 all-star ensemble drama from the creator of The West Wing explores thought-provoking, grown-up issues like censorship, office politics, ethics, and media bias -- topics that are worth discussing with older teens but might not interest them. If teens do want to watch, parents should be aware that illegal drug use is part of the storyline, but the focus is on addiction recovery and staying clean.
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What's the story?
West Wing executive producer Aaron Sorkin follows that hit show about the inner workings of Washington, D.C., with a series that goes behind the scenes of another inescapable cultural institution: television. After network bosses decide to cancel a controversial sketch in fear of offending conservative viewers, a longtime Studio 60 producer (Judd Hirsch) decides to go on the air to inform the public that they're all being "lobotomized." His outburst kicks off a media frenzy that prompts the network's new president, Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), to bring in high-profile writers Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) to turn things around. Steven Weber, D.L. Hughley, Sarah Paulson, Nathan Corddry, Timothy Busfield, and Ed Asner round out a talented ensemble cast.
Is it any good?
Blessed with an intriguing storyline, smart writing, and an A-list cast that's hard to beat, STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP isn't just entertaining -- it actually makes you think about the nature of media and power. Heavy stuff, to be sure. But the series does it in a palatable way, taking viewers behind the scenes of a hit weekend comedy show (also called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) that's produced live -- think Saturday Night Live -- to see what happens when things go off-script.
Studio 60 is first-rate entertainment for grown-ups, but its complex plots and mature themes (including office politics, drug addiction, and insinuations about using sex to get ahead) make it iffy for younger teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether TV networks have a moral responsibility to educate, enlighten, and challenge their viewing audiences -- or whether they're merely in business to entertain the masses. Are ratings a reflection of what people really want to see, or are hit shows just a product of good marketing? What's the difference between a smart satire that makes a point and crude comedy that goes too far? Can a joke still be funny without pushing the envelope and running the risk of being offensive? And who gets to decide where the line is drawn?
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