A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Grinder is a comedy series about an out-of-work actor who returns to his hometown and ends up putting his TV lawyer skills to use at the family firm (to his nebbish brother's chagrin). The show contains some arguing, iffy language ("douche bag," "hell"), and some occasional sexual innuendo, but the overall content is mild enough for teens. Drinking (beer, hard liquor) is sometimes visible. Stars Rob Lowe and Fred Savage are clearly having fun here, and it's not a bad bet for parents and teens to watch together.
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What's the story?
THE GRINDER is a comedy about Dean Sanderson Jr. (Rob Lowe), a TV star who spent eight years playing a lawyer known as (what else?) "The Grinder," and his brother Stuart (Fred Savage), who's an actual attorney. Now that the series has ended, Dean finds himself back in his home town of Boise, Idaho, with his brother and his family, including his wife, Debbie (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), and their kids, 15-year-old Lizzie (Hana Hayes) and 13-year-old Ethan (Connor Kalopsis). While Stuart steadily grinds through each of his cases in hopes of building his reputation in the courtroom and eventually taking over their father's (William Devane) law firm, Dean uses his celebrity status and dramatic persona to intervene in his brother’s professional and personal life. Despite being at odds with each other, they soon discover that they make a great -- albeit unconventional -- team that is committed to the pursuit of justice.
Is it any good?
Despite the unrealistic premise, the show's formula combines some good writing and well-timed comedic performances to create some laugh-out-loud moments. Lowe takes his character just far enough to be obnoxiously funny without being silly, gliding on his usual charm, while Savage offers the balance and understated humor that makes their on-screen relationship work.
There's some courtroom language, but the overall series isn't meant to be cerebral or take itself too seriously. Instead, it offers a fun way to understand the relationship between two brothers who have lived very different lives but somehow have found each other again. Ultimately, if you're looking for an entertaining half hour of TV viewing, there's a good chance you'll find it here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the idea of returning home after a long time away. Do you think your family would be happy to have you back after you've left? Why, or why not?
Families also can talk about "faking it to make it." The Grinder doesn't really know what he's talking about, but he speaks convincingly. Is this a useful skill, or is it deceptive?