A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parnets need to know that The Great North is an animated comedy centering on a family of quirky dreamers who live together happily in Alaska running a commercial fishing business. The show has a gentle tone, with silly characters who love, accept, and support each other. Though jokes can be a bit rude, they're not bitter or mocking. The diverse cast (particularly considering the standards set by most prime-time animated comedies) includes a Black main character and a gay teenaged boy, and the show's lead is a teenaged girl. Violence is infrequent and played for laughs: a family pretends to believe their matriarch was eaten by a bear; a moose rampages through a family's house, destroying sentimental keepsakes. Jokes can also be mature in a sexual sense, with gags about body parts and references to sex that might sail over young viewers' heads (but middle schoolers and up will get). Language is infrequent too: "ass" and "son of a bitch" are heard, but the cast also relies on sound-alike substitutes like "frigging" and "son of a beaver."
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What's the story?
Created by Bob's Burgers scribes Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin along with Regular Show's Minty Lewis, THE GREAT NORTH is set in a coastside Alaska town, where Beef Tobin (Nick Offerman) runs his fishing boat business along with his oldest son Wolf (Will Forte) and his fiance Honeybee (Dulcé Sloan), teenage son Ham (Paul Rust) and daughter Judy (Jenny Slate), and youngest son, 10-year-old Moon (Aparna Nancherla). And through moose and ice caverns, direct-sales money pits and visits from Judy's imaginary friend Alanis Morissette appearing in the form of Northern lights, the Tobin family muddles through life somehow.
Is it any good?
Fans of Bob's Burgers will want to draw up a chair for this animated comedy, which boasts a similar gentle vibe and comedy mined from silliness and foibles instead of mockery. At first, the similarities to Bob's may make The Great North feel like a bit of an also-ran: both shows center on quirky families running a seaside business; the animation style is definitely from the same universe; the baby of each family even wears animal ears. But The Great North does something that puts a major shift on the types of stories it takes on -- teenage daughter Judy is the lead, not patriarch Beef, as we're primed to expect from shows like Bob's and Nick Offerman's comedic fame.
Slate, who here sounds more like her Missy character on Big Mouth than her conceited eighth grade Tammy in Bob's Burgers, is up to the challenge. Her Judy is brimming with confidence, loves her family, and is ready to take the world by the butt cheeks as she tells us in the show's pilot episode. And though her burgeoning independence initially cause some family fallout, it's all smiles and hugs by the show's end. And that's what viewers can expect from The Great North, some sharp jokes, gentle whimsy, and smiles and hugs by the end, with "A" plots that center on such things as school dances, a new job at the mall where a cute older boy works, and Wolf's hopes to turn the family's fishing boat into a tourist attraction. For a show set in a cold place, The Great North sure feels warm and comforting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about animated comedies like The Great North. What kinds of things can an animated series offer viewers that a live-action series can't? Do you think animated comedies rely on more risqué behavior to please their audiences?
Many animated sitcoms focus on iconoclastic families. Why? Is there a show that set this mold? How old is the tradition? How many live-action sitcoms also center on weird families? Why is this a rich comedic setup?
The Great North has the same art style as another animated comedy created by some of the same people, Bob's Burgers. Can you name other animated shows that take on the artistic style that another show popularized? Does this imply that the shows are set in the same universe?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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