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 although Christine spends plenty of heartwarming moments with her third-grader, this sitcom isn't really about parenting. It's actually more adult, dealing humorously with such issues as how middle-class types mingle with their super-rich counterparts, how women size each other up, and how ex-spouses move on and move up in the world.
What's the story?
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine, a woman who owns a Curves-type gym franchise and is trying to forge an identity beyond that of mother and ex-wife. Endearing and insecure, Christine struggles with life as a single mother after her son starts attending a new, more exclusive school and her ex takes on a younger, spacier Christine (yes, they share the same name, which is why Louis-Dreyfus' character is the "old" Christine). Her ex, Richard (Clark Gregg), is cavalier about having a new girlfriend; Christine's co-worker gets all the witty one-liners; and her roommate (her brother) is slacker-snarky, ever the observer.
Is it any good?
In the able hands of Louis-Dreyfus, Christine sometimes manages to be complex, but only for a moment, until she's drowned out by the ubiquitous laugh track. All too quickly, the show falls into stereotypes -- the rich-stay-at-home moms are brittle and bitter; the new girlfriend is pretty, and pretty vapid -- but the intended irony may not be clear, especially to young viewers. Instead, they may think new girlfriends of divorced fathers are usually vacuous (and good in bed, if inferences are to be believed); that divorced moms are frantic and sex-starved (one episode mentions "sex" so many times that nothing else seems important); and that children of divorce suffer only from a severe case of flatly written dialogue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what happens when a nuclear family detonates, and what the fall-out is for both parents and children. How can families survive divorce? What's it like for kids? They can also explore questions of race and class, both of which are brought up in the episodes that deal with Christine's son switch from public to private school. Is it easy to start over? How does one begin again?