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The Hard Times of RJ Berger

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Hard Times of RJ Berger TV Poster Image
Bawdy series centers on a teen with a plus-sized "package."
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Most relationships between adults and teens are dysfunctional in some way, and there's an overarching message that suggests having sizable genitalia will make you more popular.

Positive Role Models & Representations

RJ seems like a good guy at heart, but even he's not above standing up to a bully by sticking his hand down his own pants and rubbing his finger across the guy's face, declaring, "That's how a man smells, bitch." Most of the other teen characters are even less positive, and adult characters are seriously flawed.


Some low-level bullying plus an occasional punch or fistfight, played for laughs.


Persistent crass talk and hypercharged sexual innuendo, including a girl's offer of "Any time, any place, any orifice." No nudity, but implied sexual acts (masturbation and oral sex) between teenage characters. Audible terms like "t-ts," "nuts," "boner," "vagina" and "donkey d--k."


A steady stream of audible terms like "asshole," "bitch," "Goddammit," and "bastard," peppered with some bleeped swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "c--k," etc.).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's a reference to "bong rips," and some underage drinking takes place at unsupervised parties with no real negative consequences. Some teens drink to the point of throwing up, etc. Adults occasionally overindulge in front of kids too.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this witty but wild series deliberately pushes the boundaries of TV acceptability when it comes to teen sexuality. It's the kind of show that follows in the spirit of many R-rated movies like Superbad or Knocked Up -- shows that are geared to adults, but watched by teens anyway.  Like those movies, this series is full of outrageous content that is sure to appeal to teen humor, but that parents may find hard to take. It's really in-your-face comedy full of sex, drinking, and teen sexual obsession. There's no nudity, although the series pilot opens with the lead character furiously masturbating under his covers, and there are regular animated sequences that play out his innermost thoughts and fantasies. Characters also make raucous, sexually charged statements like, "I'm soaked" (said by a girl who's sexually aroused). Equally edgy scenes show teens drinking underage without negative consequences, and teen dialogue with bleeped swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "c--k," etc.) and liberal use of phrases like "donkey d--k," "nip slips," and "nut musk." 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysomeone141 August 7, 2010
Parent of a 2 year old Written bynforet June 17, 2010
I saw a few minutes of this show the other night and I was seriously appalled. It does play pretty late at night but kids are staying up later right now because... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRawrIsDinoTalkF... May 11, 2011

Woah Woah Woah, Back It Up

i love this show. I've loved it since season one. It was so halarious i met a guy because we started talking about tv shows and i happened to mention the h... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 5, 2010

good messages, but some sexual content and bad language.

RJ is a nerdy freshman who stands up for who he is. This is a classic- nerd vs. jock. The high school jocks do make some sexual jokes and they do curse a bit, b... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER, the titular RJ (Paul Iacono) doesn't have much clout in the halls of Pinkerton High School. That is, until he drops his shorts in front of the entire student body and sheds light on his best-kept secret: his extra-large penis. It doesn't take long for RJ's peers to start looking at him differently, and for his best friend Miles (Jareb Dauplaise) to start plotting their road to popularity. But RJ's more interested in his budding friendship with school hottie Jenny Swanson (Amber Lancaster) -- and fending off his platonic friend Lily's (Kara Taitz) aggressive sexual advances.

Is it any good?

With the scripted series Hard Times, MTV is offering an antidote to its bloated menu of reality programming, and that's part of the reason it feels so fresh and funny. The other part is the whip-smart writing, with laugh-out-loud one-liners reminiscent of big-screen comedies like Superbad and American Pie. The difference here, of course, is that it's on the small screen -- and far more accessible to younger viewers, which begs the question: Is cable ready for so much raunch?

Execs behind the series insist episodes won't be "penis-driven," but that remains to be seen. Since it's set in high school, the show is clearly aimed at teens and older, though younger kids might want to watch too. The catch with Hard Times, then, is how parents will feel about its penchant for pushing the envelope when it comes to sexual content on TV. And chances are, based on what we've seen so far, they won't feel good.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how accurately your teens think this series portrays their sexual attitudes and emotions. Does the show get it just about right, or does it exaggerate fantasies and insecurities?

  • What's the show's target audience? How can you tell? Do you think the series will appeal to one gender more than the other?

  • Do you see any negative stereotypes being played out in particular characters?

  • Families might try and discuss why it is that parents don't find the same things funny that kids do when it comes to sex. Without being wet blanket, try to explain to your teens what concerns you in relationships portrayed.

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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