The Goodwin Games

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Goodwin Games TV Poster Image
Flawed but family-oriented comedy pushes a positive message.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Family dysfunction, greed, and competition are major themes, but so are perseverance, redemption, and family bonding. The "games" appear to have been engineered to bring the estranged siblings together and repair broken bonds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Goodwin siblings are flawed but have redeeming qualities: Henry is emotionally distant, but ambitious and responsible; Chloe is shallow and self-absorbed, but highly intelligent; and Jimmy has served time in prison, but is a loving father.

Violence
Sex

Mild sexual tension, flirting, etc.

Language

Gateway words like "damn" and "hell," plus iffy insults like "butt-ass ugly lesbo."

Consumerism

The Hasbro board game Trivial Pursuit plays a significant role in the plot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking. Characters occasionally overindulge.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Goodwin Games pushes some surprisingly positive messages about brothers and sisters getting along in spite of their differences, even though, on the surface, it seems like the plot is all about greed. That said, there's some mild language (including iffy slurs like "butt-ass ugly lesbo"), social drinking, and sexual tension that make this family-oriented comedy better suited to older teens.

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What's the story?

When their father (Beau Bridges) dies unexpectedly, the estranged Goodwin siblings -- Henry (Scott Foley), Chloe (Becki Newton), and Jimmy (T.J. Miller) -- return home to attend the funeral, only to learn that a $23 million inheritance is up for grabs. But there's a big catch: Only one of them can claim the family fortune by winning an elaborate competition dreamed up by their dad called THE GOODWIN GAMES.

Is it any good?

Sprung from the minds of How I Met Your Mother's Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, The Goodwin Games has a playful premise that defies you to take it seriously: Three siblings who haven't seen each other in years find out that their late father -- who they thought was an underpaid math professor -- has left them $23 million. Add to that the fact that they're now "contestants" in a high-stakes competition for the cash that was masterminded by their dad before he died, and you've got a recipe for a family comedy that's inventive ... and admittedly far-fetched.

But the fact that the plot's more or less preposterous isn't what makes these Games feel like they're destined for cancelation. (After all, the famously dysfunctional Bluths of the critically acclaimed Arrested Development are some of the most hilariously far-fetched characters ever written.) The problem lies in the show's clumsy tone, which never quite makes it to the requisite madcap and teeters somewhere between silly and sincere. Because if we're really meant to root for the Goodwins, we have to first believe they're worthy of our applause.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about family dynamics and why it's often difficult for siblings to get along. If you have brothers or sisters, what types of things do you fight about? (And more importantly, how do you repair the damage and say you're sorry?)

  • How big of a role does competition play in the way families interact? Would a high-stakes experiment like The Goodwin Games actually work in real life?

  • How does The Goodwin Games stack up against other comedies about dysfunctional families? What elements does it have in common with shows like Arrested Development and Modern Family? Does it bring anything new to the table?

TV details

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