The Kumars at No. 42

 
Off-beat UK improv comedy with hilarious cast.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The cast is Indian, and there's often some mild stereotype exaggeration that's played for humor. Body-related topics (like offering guests snacks that will cause diarrhea) are a favorite conversation point for one woman, as are teasing jabs at the main character for being slightly portly.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Very mild sexual innuendo and occasional mention of genitalia (testicles, etc.). In one scene, a character jokes about someone putting a carrot up another character's bum.

Language

Some British slang.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this quirky British show, which mixes a sitcom atmosphere with that of a late-night talk show, doesn't have too much questionable content. But the subtle comedy style probably won't hold tweens' attention. The cast members earn well-deserved laughs with their quick wit and ability to roll with the punches of their often-unscripted dialogue. Although sexual innuendo and potty humor -- usually related to bathroom issues -- are present, they're mostly mild enough to be of little concern.

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What's the story?

Improv comedy THE KUMARS AT NO. 42 is set in the home of the Kumars, a multi-generational Indian family living in Wembley, north of London. Ashwin (Vincent Ebrahim) and his wife, Madhuri (Indira Joshi), share their home with their adult son, Sanjeev (Sanjeev Bhaskar), whom Madhuri is always badgering to get married. Sanjeev's old-worldly grandmother -- or "Ummi," (Meera Syal) as she's called -- is also in residence. The family residence is also home to a state-of-the-art TV studio where they chat it up with the many celebrities who land on their doorstep, including British stars like Minnie Driver, Leslie Phillips, and Stephen Fry. As Sanjeev interviews guests, his family members interject comments and questions from a nearby couch, adding tedious tales (from Dad), sugary-sweet compliments (from Mom), and off-the-wall observations (from the outrageously uninhibited Ummi, who's especially boisterous when young men come to visit). With so much outside influence, it's often hard for Sanjeev to stay on task, and his "interviews" tend to head off on strange conversational tangents.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The magic of The Kumars is in the cast members' ability to mix scripted dialogue with their own hilarious brand of slapstick and improv comedy. Often guests are caught off guard by the unpredictability of the actors, who like to gently poke fun at the celebs and whose quick wit and adherence to their slightly exaggerated characters make this show a stand out. A final note: Although the content is mild enough for young teens to watch without much parental concern, it's likely that the subtle, character-related humor won't hold their attention. But adults who can appreciate the show's context will reap hilarious benefits.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's comedy style. How would your kids describe this type of comedy? What other shows use similar styles? Does this style entertain your kids? Do they "get" it? Parents can also talk about the Kumar family's living situation. How is their family life similar to or different from yours? What constitutes a family?

TV details

Cast:Indira Joshi, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Vincent Ebrahim
Network:BBC America
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of The Kumars at No. 42 was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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