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The Unicorn

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
The Unicorn TV Poster Image
Mild language and innuendo in ensemble dramedy.

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

Positive Messages

Sweet family bonds are at the center of this dramedy, and themes of teamwork and perseverance are clear in the way daughters and their father pull together to create better relationships and a happier home life. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wade is a well-meaning man who tries to do right by those around him. He thinks about others' feelings and attempts to treat them fairly. His friends are built more on stereotypical lines (i.e. Forrest the way-out weirdo, Michelle the tough-talking rationalist) but they also mean well and attempt to support Wade and each other. Teen/tween daughters Grace and Natalie are sensitively drawn and feel realistic. 

Violence
Sex

Dating and romance forms much of the focus of this series, although we don't see a lot of skin or sex. Characters talk frequently about dating: what's expected, what's proper. They also talk about sex, like in a scene when a married couple considers abandoning their morning routine to "make love right now" but then agrees instead to put it into their shared calendar to have sex at a more convenient time later. Language can be a bit vulgar, like when a woman texts a man to call her if he ever wants to "bone" and one sister tells her dad that her sibling "let a boy touch her boob." 

Language

Language is infrequent: "hell," "dammit," "crap," "ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink wine at gatherings and dinners; pretty much every time pals get together they have bottled beers or big glasses of wine, though no one acts drunk. One character who we're to understand is a bit of a "mess" drinks wine in a travel coffee cup at a children's sports game. Another character talks about getting high (but doesn't mention on what). 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Unicorn is an ensemble comedy about a middle-aged man who starts dating again after losing his wife, with the support (or sometimes interference) of his group of friends and two daughters. Mature moments mostly arrive in the form of jokes, like scenes in which characters talk about "getting high," a teen girl who "let a boy touch her boob," a woman who texts a man to get in touch if he wants to "bone." Characters frequently drink -- they have beers or glasses of wine at practically every gathering -- but no one acts drunk. Romance is central to the series, and we see a lot of dates. Language is infrequent: "damn," "ass," "hell." Family members and friends are sweetly supportive and caring but some are more thoughtfully characterized than others. They do show perseverance and teamwork in solving problems, though. 

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What's the story?

When Wade Felton (Walton Goggins) decides he might be ready to date again a year after his wife died and haltingly joins a dating app, he soon discovers he's a considered THE UNICORN: as a responsible devoted widower, women find him quite the catch. And so with encouragement from his best friends Forrest (Rob Corddry), Michelle (Maya Lynne Robinson), Ben (Omar Benson Miller), and Delia (Michaela Watkins) -- and the somewhat more grudging support from his teen/tween daughters Grace (Ruby Jay) and Natalie (Makenzie Moss) -- Wade heads out into the dating world, ready for whatever he finds there. Or so he thinks. 

Is it any good?

It's not this sitcom is bad, exactly -- it's not without its charms -- as much as it feels cobbled together from the guts of other shows. It has a group of adults that spend suspiciously large amounts of non-work time together a la Friends. It has sweet soft-focus scenes of a family enjoying time together set to gauzy musical cues like you might see on Freaks and Geeks or Modern Family. And it has a parade of glossy women improbably throwing themselves at a man in a manner similar to shows like Seinfeld and Two and a Half Men.

Thankfully, it also has Goggins playing sweet -- not toothily bitter as you may have last seen him on Vice Principals --  and the offbeat line readings of Watkins and Corddry. This is a particular treat when the lines are choice, as they frequently are. In the show's pilot episode, when Watkins' Delia finds Grace, Natalie, and Wade subsisting off frozen food from the dishes neighbors brought by after Mrs. Felton's death, she quips "This is the Disney Channel version of Grey Gardens." However, other moments are painfully sitcommy, like when Wade's first romance-app date cuts it short after he refuses an offer to head back to her house but leaves the door open for later, inquiring what type of car he drives. The Unicorn could have used one more edit, but if the premise or cast appeals, it's worth a look. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Unicorn compares to other family-centered shows. Does the content seem more or less realistic than others? How are they different from other sitcom families?

  • How does the media portray relationships in general? Is it ever appropriate to use stereotypes as a way of portraying them? Why do you think topics such as death, divorce, sex, and dating are dealt with so frequently on TV shows and in movies? 

  • How do the characters in The Unicorn demonstrate teamwork and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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