The Vicar of Dibley

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Vicar of Dibley TV Poster Image
Hilarious British sitcom has some discussion value as well.

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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 & Representations

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
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byEmosewaErudite April 15, 2013

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 f... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byABCand123 September 29, 2014

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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