Surviving the In-Laws

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Surviving the In-Laws TV Poster Image
Surprisingly funny semi-scripted family conflict stories.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The complicated relationships between parents, in-laws, and adult children are highlighted. It also reinforces stereotypes about difficult in-laws, stepparents, and other extended family members.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The in-laws range from being eccentric to pushy, bossy, and difficult. Sons- and daughters-in-law aren't always easy to deal with, either.


Interactions between parents, stepparents, adult children, and others range from catty exchanges to occasional threats of violence. Small children sometimes act wild or bratty.


Occasionally men are shown walking around in their boxer shorts and/or shirtless.


Occasionally "damn," sometimes by children.


Apple computers, YouTube, and other logos occasionally visible, but not prominently featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine occasionally visible. Smoking is sometimes discussed; on one occasion a child is shown puffing on an unlit cigarette.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Surviving the In-Laws sometimes seems like a reality show, but it's actually a semi-scripted series based on true stories. Some of the humor seems to reinforce stereotypes about in-laws. It features lots of catty exchanges and arguments (some leading to threats of violence), a few iffy words ("damn"), and some drinking. Small children are sometimes shown acting out or behaving inappropriately (like stealing and pretending to smoke cigarettes).

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What's the story?

SURVIVING THE IN LAWS is a loosely scripted series that tells the stories of adult couples coping with their in-laws. It features creative dramatizations of humorously hair-raising interactions with meddlesome, eccentric, and/or just plain difficult parents based on compiled interviews and anecdotes. From a couple trying to plan a wedding amidst the strife between the groom's mother and his stepmom, to finding a way to get in-laws to leave their home after overstaying their welcome by a few weeks, the details of each uncomfortable event is shared with the help of one-on-one interviews and videotaped footage.

Is it any good?

Thanks to the comedic performances of the couples, Surviving the In-Laws offers some laugh-out-loud moments as adult children attempt to talk, negotiate, bribe, and even fire their meddlesome and/or difficult in-laws in order to get them out of their hair. Meanwhile, the interactions between the cast members feel so genuine that you may find yourself wondering if this is a reality show rather than a semi-scripted series.

The show sometimes feels like it relies on some of the negative stereotypes about in-laws to get some laughs. But the fact that the events featured here are based on true stories gives it some substance. Some folks might be able to relate to what they see here, while others will simply find it funny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way that in-laws are featured in the media. Why are in-laws and stepparents often portrayed as being difficult, eccentric, or even evil? Where do these characterizations come from? Do these media representations create and/or reinforce existing stereotypes about them?

  • What exactly is a semi-scripted series? What makes this different from a reality show?

TV details

  • Premiere date: July 31, 2013
  • Network: TLC
  • Genre: Comedy
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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