Parents' Guide to

The Orville

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Rude language, mild violence in curious sci-fi dramedy.

TV Fox Comedy 2017
The Orville Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 17 parent reviews

age 12+

Great TV Must watch.

This started out as a funny show and it was refreshing that it was different. I can tell you as a grown ass man that season 3 was dramatic and funny and sad and I don't cry at things, but I've got to tell you I cried like a baby during Domino. If you are a soldier or an ex soldier who has ever served in the military you know that sacrificing your life for the pursuit of peace and safety of others is the greatest honor there is and even though this is a fake science fiction show it certainly was moving to see it on screen. Seth McFarland has hit this one out of the park. This is a home run for science fiction and if they don't have another season it will be a disservice to television.
age 14+

Come for the Comedy, Stay for the Compelling Sci-Fi and Characters

I'll start off by pointing this out -- Finding an appropriate age recommendation for The Orville as a whole is really hard, as some episodes are just quirky and fun, hardly inappropriate for a 10 year old, while others are vastly more mature, almost TV-MA levels of blue humor, violence or adult themes. However, having said that, the show is a blast with very well developed and sharply written characters, and not only do I (38) love it, my father (70) does as well, as does my nephew (14). What makes the show work is that this show is essentially Star Trek: The Next Generation, only in HD, and with sequences designed for comedy. It also has a more realistic look of how people might be in a few centuries of progress than even Star Trek did: The characters are smart, embrace alien cultures and have moved beyond things like racism and homophobia, but at the same time, they are portrayed as still being emotional, partially libido-driven, and many of them have dark senses of humor that sometimes shock those around them. While this makes the show itself hard to recommend for families, it does contain a subliminal positive message: Excellence does not mean becoming a perfect person (like it appeared in TNG), but rather you just need to do what is right and as good as you can, and that those around you, as much as they might come off like a clown or a slacker, just might be able to save you. Most forms of Sci-Fi tend to show the people of the future (ie. the people we're supposed to aspire to) as being perfect, but this show specifically aims to show the realistic imperfections of the characters and their decisions, and tells us, the audiences, that rising above these is what makes you great, rather than somehow being able to negate them entirely. This is bolstered by some surprisingly inventive high-concept Sci-Fi plots. In this regard the only thing I can think to compare it to is Red Dwarf, as it too was a character-driven Sci-Fi/Comedy that, despite the fact that it was mostly just high-energy fun, had extremely sharp and original Sci-Fi concepts for many of the more outlandish episodes. And maybe that's the best way to describe it: This is Star Trek but written by the Red Dwarf manual. And it's interesting too, as this is much more like classic Star Trek than the aggressively mean-spirited Discovery is, making it the only time where the Parody is more in line with the original intended tone than the current incarnation of the franchise itself. It's inconsistent in quality, and this I could go into for pages, but when it works, it's legitimately great stuff, and highly recommended for adults, and for upper-teenagers. There's a lot of sexual and alcoholic humor, but nothing too explicit.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (17 ):
Kids say (7 ):

Neither the flat-out Galaxy Quest-esque satire of space shows, nor the MacFarlane rapid-fire joke-a-tron that viewers might expect, this series strikes a genuinely puzzling tone. There are jokes, and given MacFarlane's talent, they're often good ones, rooted in the kind of space-drama mythology that genre fans (which MacFarlane happily admits to being) love. In the first episode of The Orville, Bortus explains that the members of his race, the Moclans, only pee once a year. "Really?" says Mercer. "I'm up two, three times a night." "That is unfortunate," says Bortus gravely.

But long, long stretches pass with no jokes, not even attempts. And slowly it dawns on the viewer: The "message" storylines about tolerance and kindness and bravery are being taken seriously. This isn't a parody of Star Trek: The Next Generation, despite the similarity of Bortus' head wrinkles to Worf's (and to Dr. Lazarus' in Galaxy Quest) -- it's an homage. MacFarlane is fanboying all over space shows, and Fox is letting him do it. And thus we can expect sub-vintage sitcom-level plot lines, unsubtle "smile on your brother" preachiness, and the occasional really good d--k joke. If that sounds like your thing, have at it.

TV Details

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