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 is a show about adults, for adults. Talking about sex (and a fair amount of participating in it, too) is part of the show's fabric, as is a lot of casual drinking. Parenting skills are often trite and iffy, and the characters use a lot of borderline-swearing language.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the tradition of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place, the California lifestyle has been nipped and tucked to look very seductive in SUMMERLAND. Ava (played by Lori Laughlin, who also helped produce the series) was happily making a name for herself in the fashion design world, frolicking in the sunshine on the beaches of Southern California, when her sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car crash and she's handed three kids to care for. Ava's strong desire to be a good person comes through in this tough situation, but she now finds herself trying to rear children in the middle of a seemingly never-ending beach party.
Is it any good?
Like peering into a tide pool full of outlandish creatures, it's hard to look away from the imaginary world of Summerland -- but this show is perplexing to say the least. Half of the issues going on in the household are inappropriate for the kids who live there, which begs the question -- why bring kids into the mix at all? Of course, this premise is the challenge confronting the adults. But to imply that kids should watch Summerland simply because an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old are playing roles here is ridiculous. This is not family viewing. It is what junk food is to the average American -- you may crave it, but there is no substance whatsoever.
Although there are great waves to catch and an amusing time to be had trying to follow the exploits of the characters, some of the weak moral lessons here can be dangerously trite. Real problems like coping with the death of both parents and adjusting to a new culture are not going to disappear like the tide. And ultimately, even for all of her good intentions, Ava will never be mom to the three kids she inherits. These kids will likely instead adopt the habits put forth by her roommates, who have not quite grown out of the idea that life ain't nothing but a party. In short, be wary of Summerland -- because like the song "Hotel California" says, "you can check out, but you can never leave."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about issues of loss and family relationships. Also, everyone in the show is beautiful and slender -- how hard must it be to keep up appearances? Is it realistic? How does peer pressure factor in? Can Ava and her friends really be "a family" to these orphans? Is life in a beach town really like this?