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, at first glance, this sitcom may look like the average family-oriented show, but its humor pushes the boundaries of typical primetime family fare. The main character is a 32-year-old man with the emotional maturity of a young teenager. Jokes about masturbation, molestation, herpes, pornography, race, and religion pepper each episode, and language sometimes pushes the limits of what viewers have come to expect from a sitcom, with words like "bitch," "sucks," "bastard," "crapper," and "vagina" used freely.
What's the story?
Comedian Rob Corddry -- best known for his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show -- stars in THE WINNER, a sitcom set in upstate New York. Corddry plays Glen Abbott, a neurotic man-child who lives with his parents and lusts after his neighbor/childhood crush Alison Miller (Erinn Hayes). Glen's best friend is Alison's 13-year-old son Josh (Keir Gilchrist), a fellow neurotic and Glen's emotional equal. Told from the perspective of present-day Glen, now married with three kids and the richest man in Buffalo, The Winner looks back on Glen's "formative" years -- starting in 1994, when he was a late-blooming 32. Pop culture references to O.J. Simpson and Nancy Kerrigan spice up the flashback comedic setup.
Is it any good?
While The Winner's set looks like a traditional sitcom, its plots and dialogue are quite a bit more risqué than, say, The Cosby Show (or even According to Jim). And despite its forceful laugh track and by now old-fashioned, stationary-camera three-wall set, the show feels fresh. Corddry's comic persona -- an eager, awkward, rather conservative dork -- carries the bulk of the show, while Gilchrist's Josh is a refreshingly different take on the typical sitcom kid. Even the show's stereotypical sitcom elements (like scenes on a living room couch facing the camera) feel like they're part of a postmodern tweak. It's as if, in order to look back to 1994, we have to do so through the popular TV format of the day.
With its frequent references to sexuality and occasional foul language, parents may want younger kids to avoid The Winner. But mature teens and parents may very well enjoy the show's unique humor, despite (or because of) its edgier elements.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about late bloomers. Is or was anyone in your family a late bloomer? What challenges face someone who takes longer than average to mature? Are there any advantages? What about the late-bloomer concept makes this show funny? Is there anything about the show that makes you uncomfortable? If so, why? How realistic do you think Glen and Josh's friendship is? Also, do you notice the show's laugh track? Why do some sitcoms have them while others don't? Which do you prefer?