Surviving Suburbia

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Surviving Suburbia TV Poster Image
Jaded view of family life is best for empathetic adults.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The Pattersons are a strong family, but Steve is openly cynical about nearly all aspects of life, love, and family. He talks about his friends behind their backs and relishes the opportunity to snipe at others. The show makes light of some potentially troubling messages, as when Steve and Anne maintain a lie to a neighbor to get a free stay in his beachfront condo.


Many remarks are laced with sexual undertones. A recurring character runs a strip club, so there are frequent references to strippers and sexual attraction. Suggestive flirting among adults, including some aimed at married men and women. Couples mention being "in the mood" and talk about their sexual encounters after the fact (for example, "That was fabulous; a lot less fumbling than usual").


A handful of instances of words like "hell" and "damn" per episode.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke infrequently, and social settings usually include alcohol like beer and scotch.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this sitcom centers on an average family coping with typical woes, it's not ideal for whole-family viewing. The main character is cynical about everything from helping out a neighbor to lending a hand on his kids' homework projects, and young viewers lack the life experience needed to grasp the humor in his gloomy outlook on life. That said, salty language ("hell" and "damn," mostly) is relatively minimum, and sexual content is limited to suggestive references between adults (talk of being "in the mood" and some talk about each other's performances, for example). But you can expect a fair amount of drinking among adults, both during social situations and as a way to deal with the chaos of life.

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What's the story?

SURVIVING SUBURBIA is a family centered sitcom that offers tongue-in-cheek commentary on the joys and pressures of modern adult life. Bob Saget stars as Steve Patterson, a middle-aged husband and father struggling with the confines of his predictable life. With his wife (Cynthia Stevenson), kids (Jared Kusnitz and G Hannelius, and a lovely home in the suburbs, Steve should be relishing his piece of the American dream. But the mundane nature of his life instead drives him to criticize everything and everyone around him -- and to question whose dream this lifestyle really is.

Is it any good?

Saget has no problem stepping back into the shoes of a sitcom dad, but his current character is the antithesis of his well-known role as Full House's exceedingly optimistic Danny Tanner. Of course, Surviving Suburbia is geared toward a more mature audience than that family-friendly '90s series was, as Steve's jaded outlook on life and ready sarcasm -- while sure to garner chuckles from those of us who can relate to his many beefs with adulthood -- will be lost on kids and tweens who probably won't understand the jabs at everyday grown-up experiences.

Expect some sporadic swearing, drinking, and sexual references -- but nothing too eyebrow raising by modern primetime standards. Moderately bad behavior on the adults' part (lying to a friend to get an expenses-paid vacation, for example) is also a non-issue for mature viewers but could send mixed messages to kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the messages this series sends about love, life, and family. What aspects of his life are most bothersome to Steve? How do you think these issues translate to real life? Do Steve's coping techniques ring true? How would you handle some of the issues he struggles with? How can the pressures of career and family interfere with a person's happiness? Kids: What are your goals for adulthood? How will you keep a positive outlook if things don't turn out the way you hope?

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