Parents' Guide to

Tales of the City (2019)

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Revamp of groundbreaking series has nostalgia, inclusion.

TV Netflix Drama 2019
Tales of the City (2019) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

Considerably racier than CSM reviewer suggests

I was delighted to see this reboot - complete with returns of Dukakis, Linney, and Gross - because I thoroughly enjoyed the original PBS series. Just watching the first episode brought back nostalgic memories and had me tracking down the original series so I am watching them now in parallel. I’m not yet passed the third episode but I don’t think the CSM reviewer got that far because there are overt, nude sex scenes in that episode rendering this unsuitable for non-adult audiences. If you glanced casually at those scenes while walking by a screen you would think it was porn. And yes, I know teens watch porn, but just because they can doesn’t mean they should. I haven’t read Maupin’s books but if you were a fan of the PBS series, then this new one should make you smile. One of the things I think I liked about the original series is how lovingly it portrayed San Francisco as a place - at least for a suburban Bay Area dweller who occasionally ventures into The City. Those same touches are in the new series. But I cannot comment on the accuracy of how the original series portrayed the denizens of The City as I did not live there and my suburban neighbors are nothing like the show’s characters. I rather suspect that the new series is a little too nostalgic and does not reflect present day SF given the frequent news stories of tech wealth, homelessness, gentrification, and lack of affordable housing there. It does seem to portray a broader, more contemporary spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community than the original series.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

This update of the all-time classic miniseries mixes nostalgia and the now somewhat awkwardly, but it's sweet, soapy, and inclusive enough to charm, particularly those who loved the original. There's a gorgeous moment in the first episode that's the best kind of fan service: A back-in-town Mary Ann charges up the same staircase filmed for the 1990s version and into Anna's 90th birthday party, gazing about her in wonder to find the house and grounds virtually unchanged. Then Anna emerges from an upstairs room and the two lock eyes: both older, more lined, but still there. It's been 25 years since the first Tales of the City aired to great acclaim (and great controversy) on PBS; viewers who were watching at the time can be forgiven for misting up at seeing these iconic characters share a screen again.

About that word "iconic," though: Anna comments in a pleasingly meta way about the show's venerable lineage, "I suppose Barbary Lane has become iconic, but people get uncomfortable around old things. When someone grows old, it remind us of the inevitability of death and before you know it, you're using words like 'iconic' instead of 'old.'" Ouch. The very same viewers who caught the original on TV may resemble that remark, even as they fall under Barbary Lane's spell again. New viewers may not appreciate the series as much, particularly in the early episodes, when subplots about a lesbian/transman couple, a set of twins with Instagram ambitions, and others seem a bit shoehorned in. But as lovably written as they are -- by Orange Is the New Black's Lauren Morelli -- and animated by terrific new actors like Elliot Page and Charlie Barnett as well as old friends like Linney and Dukakis, it's easy to sign up for another stretch on Barbary Lane.

TV Details

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