A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
Some low-level bullying plus an occasional punch or fistfight, played for laughs.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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."
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A steady stream of audible terms like "asshole," "bitch," "Goddammit," and "bastard," peppered with some bleeped swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "c--k," etc.).
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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.
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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."
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.