Trial & Error

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Trial & Error TV Poster Image
Clichéd courtroom comedy is funnier than it should be.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

Not yet rated

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Attorneys on both sides of this case are hardworking but silly and frequently make slapstick-y errors. A woman's death is at the center of this show; that fact is treated uncomfortably lightly. Stereotypes about rural people being unsophisticated or odd abound. 

Positive role models & representations

Most of the characters are too silly to be effective role models, but Summer Henderson is more serious and reliable than most of her fellow characters. She treats her father with respect and dignity, even in absurd situations. Attorneys Josh and Carol Anne work tirelessly on their sides of the Henderson murder case and make headway with diligent investigations (even if they are often ridiculous -- for example, asking a man if a severed arm is his). 

Violence

This comedy revolves around a grisly murder, which is referred to frequently and taken lightly, with jokes made about severed arms and other gruesome details; a character is dating someone referred to as a "pyromaniac" whom she says "keeps her warm." 

Sex

Flirting, dating.

Language

Occasional cursing: "dammit," "son of a bitch"; "f--k" bleeped so thoroughly that it's completely inaudible. Subtle jokes about sex, such as when Josh talks about Carol Anne playing dirty on the trial: "She's a dirty, dirty girl," he says longingly. 

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

A woman appears to be drunk; she slurs, stumbles, and nearly throws up.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Trial & Error is a comedy set in an unconventional law firm during a murder case. It's that murder case that will probably give parents the most pause, as it's treated lightly and played for laughs. Although characters may claim to be taking the death seriously, no one seems to be grieving or even upset; there are plenty of jokes about blood and severed arms. Parents may also object to gags and setups that paint rural people to be stupid and wacky. Those caveats aside, this show is mild enough for whole-family watching. The tone is light and slapstick; cursing is infrequent and usually "dammit" (although we also hear "son of a bitch," and a "f--k" is bleeped), and references to and jokes about sex are mild and subtle. If children are old enough to understand that a real-life murder is a tragic event and this is just TV, they might find this show silly and easy enough to follow. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byMargaret B. March 22, 2017

Funny but not for young teens

This show is funny but very inappropriate. Talk about seman samples, a gay character says love is fluid and my fluid goes towards men, and two people act out se... Continue reading
Parent Written byMrs.No May 13, 2017

Not for younger teens

I was looking for a show to watch with my 13 year-old, and we found this recommended for 12+ here. The pilot episode mentions "love fluids" and bugge... Continue reading

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What's the story?

In TRIAL & ERROR's small southern town of East Peck, South Carolina, a woman lies dead. Tracked through her blood are parallel lines, which sure look like they were made by roller skates. The murdered woman's husband, poetry professor Larry Henderson (John Lithgow), is a self-professed skating "roller-cizer." Case closed? Maybe -- if Larry and daughter Summer (Krysta Rodriguez) didn't engage tireless young NYC lawyer Josh Segal (Nicholas D'Agosto) for the defense against lead prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays). Settling into an office behind a taxidermy shop, which is populated by a platoon of local misfits and weirdos, Josh soon finds out that defending his client is not going to be an easy job -- particularly when Larry's always accidentally making himself look guilty. 

Is it any good?

Though it scans as pieced together from other beloved-but-gone comedies, this legal-hijinks comedy is funnier than it should be despite the painfully clichéd setting. Southern people -- they're funny, right? And the minute you hear that the workplace of this workplace comedy is a taxidermy studio, you may have one foot out the door. But the writing and the jokes are funnier than they have a right to be, and the seasoned actors are pros at delivering them. When Josh, Larry, and company find it expedient to snoop into a man's financial details at a bank left unoccupied while its head officer goes to join his wife in labor, office manager Anne (Sherri Shepherd) stays behind to lock up and winds up manning the front desk. She meant to leave, she explained; it's just that customers kept coming in. "I just approved a small business loan," she beams, before urgently telling Josh that there's no better time to refinance. This is positively Dwight Schrute-level absurdity -- we didn't realize how much we'd missed it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their feelings about Trial & Error's premise. Is a murder case an appropriate premise for a comedy? Does the way the show takes Margaret's death lightly make you uncomfortable? Is it supposed to?

  • Legal firms are frequently the settings for comedies as well as dramas. What others can you name? What dramatic or comedic possibilities do legal firms offer a TV show? 

TV details

For kids who love silly comedy

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