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Sunnyside

TV review by
Marty Brown, Common Sense Media
Sunnyside TV Poster Image
Ambitious immigration comedy has charm, diverse cast.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series is endearingly sincere both in its love for America and its belief in immigrants being an integral part of what makes the country special.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A strong cast of diverse actors (who unfortunately fit into fairly stereotypical roles initially), and characters who are sincere in their desire to become American citizens.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters hang out in a bar, and there's a recurring plot point where one of the characters is blackout drunk. There's no smoking or drugs present.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sunnyside is a sitcom starring Kal Penn (House, the Harold & Kumar franchise) as the mentor to a group of immigrants who are working toward American citizenship. The show explores what it means to be American from the point of view of the diverse group of immigrants as well as Penn's character, who is a first generation American that spent fifteen years holding public office. 

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What's the story?

In SUNNYSIDE, Garrett Modi, a disgraced former city councilman from Queens, becomes the mentor of a group of aspiring American citizens that includes Griselda, who holds down a seemingly endless number of jobs; Brady, who has lived in America since he was two; Hakim, a surgeon from Ethiopia who drives a New York taxi; and Jun Ho and Mei Lo, the wealthy children of an Asian criminal whose actual country of origin is left intentionally ambiguous. With the help of his surgeon sister, Mallory, Garrett helps the group prepare for their citizenship exams while navigating obstacles such as the looming threat of deportation.

Is it any good?

It's exciting to see a network comedy earnestly engaging with current issues -- in this case, immigration and what it means to be an American citizen -- but this doesn't do a lot to make good on its premise out of the gate. The diverse cast is slotted into fairly stereotypical roles based on their countries of origin and tend to only riff on the same obvious punchlines throughout. For example, the defining characteristic of Griselda (Diana-Maria Riva) is that she works numerous jobs, and constantly happens to be working wherever the group is meeting. Ensemble sitcoms have a tendency to grow into themselves; the hope here is that Sunnyside can evolve from obvious jokes to actual character development.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about American citizenship. What is the difference between being an American citizen and living in America without citizenship? What do the characters on Sunnyside need to do to become citizens?

  • How do each of the characters feel about America? Why do they want to become citizens? 

  • What are the obstacles in the way of the characters becoming citizens? How do they deal with these obstacles? How much do you think Sunnyside reflects the experience of real life immigrants?

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