Sydney to the Max

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Sydney to the Max TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Heartwarming family sitcom uses funny '90s flashbacks.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 38 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.


Positive Messages

Self-confident Sydney is product of nurturing, single-parent home where her straight-laced father and progressive grandmother offer different (often opposing) styles of guidance. Together they help her learn to find her voice, assert herself. But learning curve involves many instances of Sydney defying her father's rules; it's played for laughs, rarely leads to tangible consequences. Recurring theme: similarities between Sydney's growing-up woes and those of her dad (seen in flashback).


Positive Role Models & Representations

Max is a devoted father who wants what's best for Sydney, but he's often blind to parallels between her coming of age and his. When faced with that knowledge, he better understands her position and they communicate well. Judy takes a softer approach to guiding Sydney, which puts her at odds with Max but ultimately helps enlighten him in positive ways. Sydney is assertive, speaks her mind, but also breaks rules when she feels they are unjust.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sydney to the Max is a sitcom that centers on the dynamic between a middle-schooler and her overprotective father, who often finds his point of view changes when he's reminded of the follies of his own youth by his mother. The show involves comical flashbacks to the '90s to see how things played out when Sydney's dad, Max, was her age and Sydney's grandmother, Judy, was a single parent herself. Sydney rebels against her dad's rules in mostly small ways, but the show mines the behavior for laughs more than it uses them to emphasize any realistic fallout or consequence that follows. On the upside, the show presents a nurturing single-parent, multigenerational family unit that's always a place of security for Sydney.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymallior November 18, 2020


i do't want my children to be like sydney. judy is also very rude. but syd best friend olive is an amazing role model, but just does whatever syd said and... Continue reading
Adult Written byashley2020 May 1, 2020

Unique Show

I’m a few episodes into the first season, and I’m loving it. Different showing a single dad instead of the usual single mom. Kids are funny, adults in show are... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bygamergrl13 January 25, 2019

I liked it :)

I thought it was going to bad, but then I watch the sneak peeks and etc... and eventually couldn't wait for this show to come out. I just finished watching... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old May 3, 2020

It’s a great show for tweens

It’s a good show. I think it is a good role model for pre teens there’s a shaving and first period episode. So not for 6 year olds but maybe mature 9 year olds... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SYDNEY TO THE MAX, outgoing 13-year-old Sydney (Ruth Righi) is on the fast track to growing up, despite the goodhearted efforts of her protective father, Max (Ian Reed Kesler). As Sydney attempts to spread her wings and make more decisions for herself, Max does everything he can to rein her in and keep her his little girl. But as he's doing so, his mother, Judy (Caroline Rhea), is reminded of his own antics at Sydney's age, and the parallels -- illustrated by comical flashback sequences starring a young Max (Jackson Dollinger) -- are both amusing and enlightening.

Is it any good?

This sitcom's shtick -- '90s flashbacks complete with dated fashion and technology -- is a unique enough one to help bolster an otherwise standard series about generational crossed wires within a family. The added presence of Rhea as Sydney's hipster grandmother shakes up the traditional parent-teen dynamic in entertaining ways as well, forcing Max to alternate between being an authority figure as Sydney's dad and a submissive one as Judy's son. This illuminates the similarities between Max's early teen years and his daughter's and makes him a much more sympathetic and relatable character to kids in the audience.

Sydney's mild rebelliousness is necessary to advance the storylines, and all things considered, the stands she takes (adopting a dog against her dad's wishes, dyeing her own hair when he refuses to let her get it done professionally, etc.) are fairly safe ones. But the show takes a similarly soft stance on the consequence aspect of her actions, suggesting that this kind of behavior is part and parcel of the growing-up process and more a laughing matter than a serious one. It's a small hiccup in an otherwise benign series with positive themes about family relationships. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about communication between parents and kids. How do Sydney and her dad make sure they understand each other? Is it important to see a situation from the other person's point of view to reach a mutually beneficial understanding? How do you keep the lines of communication open in your family? In what ways does technology help that?

  • Kids: Can you relate to Sydney's struggle to assert herself and gain independence while still abiding by her father's rules? What new privileges have you received as you have gotten older? How have your responsibilities changed, as well?

  • How do Sydney's father and grandmother help guide her in different ways? What character strengths do you see in each of them? How are they united in their care for Sydney even when they have different opinions about what's best for her? Do you find that is true in your family?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tween TV

Character Strengths

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