The Ex List

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Ex List TV Poster Image
Single gal's search for love is sexually charged.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The main character has admirable qualities (she has a strong sense of self, freely shares her opinions and runs her own business, to name a few). But her decisions when it comes to relationships are murky at best -- she engages in casual sex with ex-boyfriends and trusts a fortune teller to solve her problems, among other things. As a role model for impressionable teen girls, she isn't the best choice.


Sex is a major plot point -- characters talk about it, joke about it, pine for it, and do it, too. Characters reference one-night stands, "drunken hook-ups," French kissing, strip clubs, and more, and the women seem to favor skimpy dresses and bikinis. In terms of visuals, there's some sexually charged kissing, but no simulated sex, although characters are shown snuggling and covered in blankets after the fact.


Mild profanity (like "ass," "bitch" and "balls") is pretty rare, but there's plenty of sexual language that's mostly tongue-in-cheek but bold. For example, two female characters have an extended conversation about bikini waxes, giving different down-there "hairstyles" descriptive nicknames like "The Hitler," "The Gandhi," "The Lincoln," and even "The Ted Koppel." They also use more clinical phrases like "pubic hair" and "vagina."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult characters drink socially and hang out in bars. In one scene, a woman celebrating her bachelorette party drinks so much that she throws up in the limo.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, technically, there's nothing explicit here when it comes to sexual activity, but there's enough sexual chatter to make it an iffy choice for young teens. You won't hear a lot of cursing ("ass" and "bitch" are as bad as it gets), but be prepared for an onslaught of jokes about one-night stands, eating disorders, pubic hair toupees, and more. Most of the characters are adults in their 30s who have active sex lives and drink alcohol socially.

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What's the story?

When a local fortune teller tells 33-year-old florist Bella Bloom (Elizabeth Reaser) that she's already met the man she's going to marry -- but that if she doesn't reunite with him soon, she'll spend the rest of her life alone -- Bella launches a determined search to find her soul mate among her long list of exes and acquaintances. Along the way, she's supposed to be paying attention to the \"signs.\" But, more often than not, she's fielding mixed signals.

Is it any good?

The basic premise of THE EX FACTOR is hardly plausible. But the show doesn't seem too concerned with the reality of Bella's predicament, assuming that viewers will simply come along for the ride. In return, they get a zippy script that's peppered with sexual innuendo -- some of which is surprisingly bold for network TV. Still, all that sass can't hide the problems when it comes to character development. Perhaps over time, the people in Bella's world will blossom into more complex individuals. Until then, this series is at risk of dying on the vine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's central premise: that a psychic tells Bella to revisit her list of ex-boyfriends in hopes of reuniting with "the one" she's supposed to marry. Is that believable? If not, does it matter? How does the show handle the topic -- with seriousness or with humor? Why is finding a husband so important at this point in Bella's life? Do you think she's ready to get married? Why or why not? And do you think that the psychic is right when she says that if Bella doesn't find the right guy in a year, she'll never find him?

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