Twenty Twelve

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Twenty Twelve TV Poster Image
Dry comedy mixes swearing, satire, and office incompetence.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show mines laughs from professional dysfunction and incompetence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While Ian is mostly capable at work, he's surrounded by incompetence on all sides. His team includes two women in positions of power, but they're just as clueless as the men.


Some audible swearing (including "f--k"), but it's spare. You'll also hear language like "bloody hell" and "for Christ's sake."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the award-winning comedy Twenty Twelve includes some unbleeped swearing in the form of "f--k" and "s--t," along with other iffy phrases like "for Christ's sake." It generally paints a portrait of widespread incompetence surrounding the planning of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

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What's the story?

Following members of the Olympic Deliverance Commission on their quest to organize the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, TWENTY TWELVE centers on Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), a generally capable fellow who's generally surrounded by idiots. The other "heads" include Head of Brand Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes), Head of Infrastructure Graham Hitches (Karl Theobald), Head of Sustainability Kay Hope (Amelia Bullmore), and Head of Contracts Nick Jowett (Vincent Franklin). The show won the 2011 British Comedy Award for Best Sitcom.

Is it any good?

Unless you're acutely aware of the details surrounding the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, you may not be overly interested in this bone-dry mockumentary that targets British audiences with largely localized satire. That's not to say Americans won't enjoy it, but it's not likely to appeal to most mainstream viewers in the U.S.

Bonneville (Downton Abbey) plays the straight man as the put-upon Head of Deliverance who has to deal with a wide range of screw-ups, including an Olympic "count down" clock that actually counts backwards, not forwards. But the best lines come from Hynes and Theobold, whose quirky characters are funny mostly because they remind us of people we know.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the real-life event this series satirizes. Does it surprise you to see how much behind-the-scenes planning, albeit fictional, goes into the creation of an event like the summer Olympics? Does the show's portrayal of the people involved change the way you think about the Olympics in general?

  • What is satire? How are the show's creators using satire -- and the "mockumentary" format -- to comment on current events? What are they saying about London's handling of the Olympics, ie., what's the show's message?

  • Does the mockumentary format work here? How different would the series be if it were shot as a multiple-camera comedy in front of a studio audience?

TV details

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