The Cleveland Show
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Cleveland Show -- an animated spin-off of Family Guy -- is too racy for young kids. Creator Seth MacFarlane’s brand of humor is heavy on shock value -- as in sequences that seem to condone sexual harassment among elementary school students or encourage teens to ignore their parents' instructions -- and includes lots of over-the-top references to sex and drinking. The series is also rife with racially-tinged comments and other salty language (including words like "douche" and "boobs"). All of the edgy content unfortunately overwhelms the genuinely sweet message about love and family at the core of the show.
What's the story?
After an acrimonious divorce leaves him homeless, Cleveland Brown (voiced by Mike Henry) moves back to his hometown and marries his high school sweetheart, Donna (Sanaa Lathan). The new couple, along with Cleveland’s teenage son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson), and Donna’s two kids -- mouthy high school student Roberta (Reagan Gomez-Preston) and precocious kindergartener Rallo (Henry again) -- try to create a happy, blended family in this animated comedy spin-off of Family Guy. (Naturally, their neighbors happen to be a family of bears -- yes, actual bears.)
Is it any good?
Fans of Family Guy know what to expect from creator Seth MacFarlane. Each episode of THE CLEVELAND SHOW is rude, crude, and raunchy, with quirky characters and plenty of jokes about sex and drinking that aim low and try to wring laughs from sheer shock value. As in MacFarlane’s other shows, nothing is off-limits here, especially race. Cleveland is African American, and the show is riddled with quips and offhand comments that play on stereotypes and clichés. You could argue that MacFarlane deserves credit for addressing the topic at all, since so many other shows don't, but the show does little to advance any real discussion of the issue.
The show has a soft and sweet center, as Cleveland tries to pursue his dreams and find love with his old flame. But this positive message is almost completely buried in sophomoric humor, and it’s hardly worth the effort to sift through the dreck to get there.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about raunchy humor. Many of the show's jokes tread very close to the line between outrageous and offensive. Do you find shows like this funny, or do they go too far? Who decides what "too far" is?
The show features repeated references to race and often includes jokes based on racial stereotypes. Is that kind of humor ever OK?