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 Surviving Jack often cultivates laughs from sexual themes, mostly related to teens' lives. Teen boys talk freely (and often crudely) about the issue, alternating between their desires and their anxieties related to it. Kissing and making out is shown with some upper-body nudity, but breasts are obscured. Adults and teens use a lot of slang when they talk about sex, including body parts ("nuts," "lady cave," "boobs") and the act itself ("screwing"). Other strong language includes "damn," "bitch," "hell," and "a--hole." Parents and kids exchange insulting banter and argue a lot, but underneath that is real affection among the family members.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
His wife's decision to go to law school leads Jack Dunlevy (Christopher Meloni) to trim his work schedule to handle affairs at home, which makes him the primary caretaker of their kids, Rachel (Claudia Lee) and Frankie (Connor Buckley). But weathering the storms of two teens' lives is a lot more complicated than this ex-military man anticipated, and his tough-love style isn't winning him any fans among the family. As Frankie faces the uncertainties of starting high school with unexpected popularity and a severe case of nerves, and Rachel uses her dad's hands-off parenting as reason to test some boundaries, Jack finds that he has some adapting to do as well. But with his wife, Joanne (Rachael Harris), as his mentor, there might be hope for him yet.
Is it any good?
Set in the '90s, SURVIVING JACK is a coming-of-age story with a unique twist; rather than focusing entirely on the kids' maturing process, it gives equal energy to the evolution of the parents, and to Jack in particular. In many ways, he has the farthest to go among the four, from a seldom-seen workaholic dad who's used to fixing problems his way to a more nurturing parental figure in the home. It's not an easy process, and the growing pains are no walk in the park, but the end result promises to be worth the effort. Despite his rogue parenting style, Jack endears himself not only to his kids and wife but also to many of their friends. The result is a funny commentary on the imperfection of family life and the reversal of traditional gender roles between parents.
That said, what poignancy exists in this series definitely isn't meant for all your family members, thanks to its fairly ribald content and red-letter dialogue. Very little is off-limits among adults and teens, so if yours aren't quite ready for frequent sexual themes, slang references to body parts, allusions to masturbation, and widely accepted teen sexuality, then you might want to pass on it for them. Adults, on the other hand, will find plenty to chuckle about in Jack and Joanne's polar-opposite parenting styles and the mixed success with which they use them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own relationships at home. Do you talk openly about what's going on in your lives? To what degree do your teens seek out advice from you or their siblings? How accurately do you think this show depicts relationships between teens and their parents?
Teens: Are your experiences with the subject of sex on par with what this show presents? Is it a topic of conversation among your friends? How much does the media's portrayal of sex influence your view of its conversational appropriateness?
Teens: Why are role models important? Do good role models have to be perfect all the time? Who are some of the people you admire most?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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