The Vicar of Dibley

Common Sense Media says

Hilarious British sitcom has some discussion value as well.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series challenges stereotypes about women clergy (in the Church of England specifically, but the argument could serve for any religious branch), a subject that's discussed at length by advocates on both sides of the argument. It also makes light of a predictably dysfunctional small town whose residents alternate between loving and despising each other at the same time, but ultimately their strong relationships shine through. Many of the characters' odd traits (limited intelligence, stuttering, chronic digestion issues and flatulence, and Geraldine's ample size) are cause for laughs.

Positive role models

Geraldine shoulders people's gender-biased assumptions about her and forces them to judge her on her abilities instead. All of the characters are quirky in some ways (and some of their personalities leave a lot to be desired), but they care about each other, and each fills a niche in their beloved town.

Violence

Silly pratfalls (a man slides down the side of a thatched roof, for example), but no injuries.

Sex

Sexual references are very tongue-in-cheek; a woman often talks about the fact that her bosoms make her an oddity among other clergy; it's implied that an upstanding man used to look at porn; and an elderly woman is known for displays of nudity. Homosexuality comes up as a fact of life (male priests as a whole are said to be gay), and slang body terms like "knockers," "gonads," and "shagging" are tossed around in mixed company. Some kissing and physical contact between partners, but no nudity.

Language

Rarely "ass" and "bastard."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

These folks enjoy drinking at social gatherings and with meals, usually to no ill effect.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Vicar of Dibley is a popular British sitcom about a boisterous female priest's arrival in a tiny rural village where she's met with varied enthusiasm by the quirky residents. Off-color jokes, talk of "shagging," and "wink wink" allusions to sexuality factor heavily into the humor, and you'll hear body references like "bosom," "knockers," and "anus" as well. Expect some comical stereotyping at the expense of conservative British values and small-town characters (an implied "village idiot" or two among them). Ultimately, though, the show's real treasures are found in the characters' relationships and in its commentary on a historic shift in the Church of England's acceptance of women in religious life.

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What's the story?

THE VICAR OF DIBLEY is an award-winning British comedy series set in an exceedingly conservative fictional countryside burg of Dibley whose residents are surprised to learn that their new vicar is a woman. The arrival of jovial, unflappable Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) is met with mixed reviews from the locals; community leader David Horton (Gary Waldhorn) rallies against the assignment that he feels relegates their parish to a lowly laboratory for the Church's new stance on gender equality, but others appreciate the new energy that Geraldine brings to the pulpit and to the town. For her part, Geraldine eagerly acclimates to the village and befriends all of its quirky residents, from simple-minded Alice (Emma Chambers) to the socially graceless Owen (Roger Lloyd-Pack). Later episodes see a softening of the relationship between David and Geraldine and many life changes for all of the main characters, including marriages, births, brushes with fame, and the vicar's own quest for love.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This hilarious sitcom -- punctuated by a glorious performance by French -- juxtaposes old and new, conservative and progressive in a decidedly British manner, resulting in an impossible conundrum of oddball characters and ridiculous scenarios. There's the old guard -- embodied in David -- who like things the way they've always been and who view unwelcome change as a threat to their social standing. And what could be more threatening than a vicar with, as Geraldine puts it, "an ample bosom," an irreverent sense of humor, and an unflappable personality? But even David can't deny that her arrival invigorates this poky village and its residents, and the unlikely relationships that emerge are as heartwarming as they are entertaining.

Comedy aside, The Vicar of Dibley was inspired by historic changes to the Church of England's stance on female clergy in the early '90s, and the characters' myriad of opinions about Geraldine's presence reflects a real-life response to such systemic changes. In that way, the show raises some intriguing discussion points about gender equality, religious establishments, and the nature of progress, all of which remain timely issues today.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about gender equality. In what forums have we achieved equal status for men and women? Which careers have seen the greatest shift on this issue? Are there forums in which it isn't feasible?

  • Discuss how this issue relates to your family's religion and explore how it compares to other faiths. What role do women hold in your place of worship? What is the potential fallout of this stance? Does it seem likely to change in the future?

  • Watch other comedy series that feature a female lead and discuss how body image is used in the content. If the character is obese, is that always a point of humor? Does the comedy style change for shows with slender body types?

TV details

Cast:Dawn French, Emma Chambers, Gary Waldhorn
Network:BBC America
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Vicar of Dibley was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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

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Teen, 13 years old Written byEmosewaErudite April 15, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Positively marvellous

The Vicar of Dibley is really British humour at its peak; it's very funny and is consistently funny, so you won't go through an episode with lots of funny bits in one specific part. However, there are a few problems with the show. First of all, the sexual content is questionable, with references to relations with people and animals (however, these are the strongest offenders), incest and adultery. This, however, just adds to the humour, considering that this is a show about a vicar, who would normally not talk about such "unholy" things. Secondly, some of the cultural references in the show are very dated (the show, after all, was first made in 1994!), meaning that younger people might be a little bit confused with some of the references. For example, they speak about television or movie stars who are considerably older now or possibly even dead, boy bands/girl groups who broke up years ago and other, similar things. Disregarding those problems, I would highly recommend the show to anyone, Christian or otherwise, who loves comedy. Although one would think so, this show is not at all derogatory to the Christian faith and is very funny in places. Look out for some well-known guest stars as well!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written byABCand123 September 29, 2014
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

cool

cool
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models

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