A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Families need to know that The Cool Kids is a sitcom about fun-loving seniors who live together in a retirement village. Most of the questionable-for-kids content comes in the form of jokes, about sex (with jokes about body parts and "boner pills"), drugs (one cast member talks lovingly about his extensive experience with psychedelics), and all sorts of other sensitive topics: religion, race, etc. The show jokes around about age too, but frequently from a subversive point-of-view, making others' expectations of age the joke rather than age itself. Characters consume alcohol in many scenes and get drunk; a woman admits to "slipping" a rival a "sleeping pill" to "knock the bitch out" so that community residents can throw a forbidden party. Language is generally used for comic effect: "son of a bitch," "bitch," "damn," "hell."
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What's the story?
At Shady Meadows retirement village, Hank (David Alan Grier), Charlie (Martin Mull), Margaret (Vicki Lawrence), and Sid (Leslie Jordan) are THE COOL KIDS, seniors who want to keep having goofy adventures instead of settling down to their golden years. This sitcom was co-created by Charlie Day (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Paul Fruchbom (Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television) and is based on Day's time working in a senior community.
Is it any good?
With good wisecracks elevated by comic actors who know how to land a joke, what could be a real cringefest winds up as a lot of fun. There's life in the old sitcom format yet, and despite a huge potential audience of TV-watching seniors, there's not actually a lot on the networks specifically aimed at them. Oh, sure, a Hot in Cleveland or a Grace and Frankie will pop up every now and again, but largely network TV is a landscape lousy with hot 20-somethings. But The Cool Kids is a potent argument for hiring actors with well-worn comedy muscles, with every single one of the main cast members delivering their lines with ease and panache. Jordan in particular is a stitch who cuts a Truman Capote-like figure playing a very rare TV bird indeed: a confident older gay man.
The setup is great too. In many ways, a retirement community is much like a college dorm: a coed cheek-to-jowl living situation filled with peers with too much time on their hands. It's easy to imagine a string of The Cool Kids adventures stretching into the future: The gang take a driving test! Throw a surprise party! Accidentally wind up feeding pot brownies to everyone at the retirement village! Schlocky? Sure. Hilarious? That too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Cool Kids' viewpoints on age. Does it reflect or shatter stereotypes about people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s? Are older people the butt of jokes here, or are they the tellers of jokes?
There aren't very many TV shows about older people. Why do you think this is? What type of viewer is this show aimed at? How can you tell?
Have you seen co-creator Charlie Day's other show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? What do you think about a younger person's idea of what older people are like?