The Michael J. Fox Show

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Michael J. Fox Show TV Poster Image
Heartfelt family comedy pokes gentle fun at Parkinson's.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series attempts a tricky balance between mining laughs from Fox's Parkinson's symptoms and not coming across as insensitive about the disease. Happily it succeeds, in great part due to Fox's ease with his condition. Even so, Parkinson's isn't the star of this comedy series, which works hard at showing strong but realistically imperfect relationships between family members and coworkers.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

As a TV character, Mike Henry is the cream of the crop –- a devoted dad and husband, an unfailing optimist, and a generous soul. It's impossible to watch without drawing comparisons between the character and the real-life man who plays him, of course, and the similarities are extensive. While those around him insist on revering his fortitude in the face of his challenges, he's just trying to be a good person and a reliable professional.

Violence
Sex

Brief scenes with kissing, hugging, and some other foreplay. In one scene, a woman reaches in her husband's shirt to stroke his chest, prompting them to rush to the bedroom. In another, two men joke about sex and use finger gestures (one hand's index finger penetrates a circle made by the other hand's thumb and index finger) to simulate the act. Some "wink-wink" moments between adults; teen siblings talk around the issue as they use condoms as water balloons.

Language

Some salty stuff like "bitch."

Consumerism

Pop culture references like American Idol, Google, and The Biggest Loser are common. NBC logos are everywhere in Mike's work life, and familiar NBC faces like The Today Show hosts make appearances as well.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine, but it's not a major aspect of the series.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Michael J. Fox Show marks the much-anticipated return of Michael J. Fox to a starring role in a comedy series, two decades after his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease. The series intentionally mines Fox's symptoms for laughs (a 30-second struggle to open a pickle jar finally solved by the 8-year-old son; the family's impatience with his failed attempts to serve dinner, etc.), but it does so with just the right ratio of comedy to sensitivity, giving viewers the blessing to snicker at his follies. Even so, the delicate balance could blur similar lines in real-world scenarios even for older kids, so if yours watch, be sure to talk to them about the difference between laughing with someone and laughing at them. Content-wise, the show is on par with most primetime sitcoms, so you can expect implied sex (but no nudity), innuendo, physical affection (kissing, mild foreplay), as well as occasional salty language like "bitch." Ultimately the show celebrates overcoming obstacles, self-acceptance, and the healing effect of (you guessed it) family ties.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bytkoehm November 14, 2013
Adult Written byJEDI micah September 27, 2013

He's back on NBC!

It sure has been a while since we've seen Michael J. Fox do acting. And now that he's back on this new show, it is definitely a real treat for Fox fan... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old October 29, 2013

I LOVE IT!

It's one of my fav shows! I love Michael J Fox on Family Ties

What's the story?

Mike Henry (Michael J. Fox) was once America's favorite news guy, but a Parkinson's diagnosis prompted him to leave his post to spend more time at home with his family. Now years later, his kids –- college dropout Ian (Conor Romero), high school standout Eve (Juliette Goglia), and quiet Graham (Jack Gore) –- are growing up, and his wife, Annie (Betsy Brandt), is ready for him to get out of the house more. As luck would have it, Mike's former coworker, Harris (Wendell Pierce), offers him his old job back in the hopes of boosting ratings, and Mike accepts, contingent on Harris' pledge to not exploit his condition to lure viewers. (Yeah, right.) The series also casts Anne Heche as Mike's professional rival and features cameos by familiar NBC faces like Matt Lauer and Al Roker, as well as public figures like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Fox's wife, Tracy Pollan.

Is it any good?

One of Hollywood's most beloved performers returns home to NBC in THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW, assuming a starring role in a series for the first time since Spin City's culmination in 2001 and more than 20 years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Even though he's never hidden the effects of his condition from cameras, often taking supporting roles in shows like The Good Wife and Rescue Me alongside his very public fundraising work on behalf of medical research, being at the center of a series brings his symptoms to light to a new degree. The show is loosely based on his life, both with the disease and as a family man, and it's unfailingly honest about the ups and downs on both counts. What makes it so endearing is that this is precisely what Fox and the show's creative team set out to do, giving viewers a sense of both the frustrating and funny aspects of an oft-avoided disease.

Even so, The Michael J. Fox Show also manages a far more impressive feat; it upstages the curiosity factor of Parkinson's with a heartfelt, family-centered story that's similarly honest about the ups and downs of life. It doesn't take long to look past Fox's tremors and get absorbed in his more relatable (at least for most of us) struggles of raising kids and balancing work and home responsibilities, and the messages that emerge here self-affirming for families and easily tailored to their own unique struggles.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether this series accomplishes its goal of an honest portrayal of Parkinson's disease. Is it sensitive enough to the challenges those with the condition face? Do you think anyone would take offense with what Fox is doing here? Is this an appropriate venue for raising awareness?

  • Tweens: What makes it OK to laugh at Fox's struggles with daily activities like eating or getting dressed? How is this different from how you would react if you saw someone with the same symptoms in person? Does this show have a positive impact on people's awareness of this and other diseases?

  • How does this show portray family life? Does this resonate with your family's experiences? What unique challenges does your family cope with?

TV details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love watch together fare

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate