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 this sitcom -- which stars controversial rap/reality show star Flavor Flav -- relies on negative racial and ethnic stereotypes (particularly those relating to African Americans) for its humor. There's some strong language ("hell," "bitch," "dumb ass") and sexual innuendo, including references to homosexual activity and frequent discussions of fathering multiple children with various women. Some of the female characters wear tight, skimpy outfits. There are lots of references to criminal activity, including murder; weapons (knives, crossbow) are sometimes shown within this context. Also expect some alcohol consumption; on at least on one occasion, a character is shown drinking and acting drunk.
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What's the story?
In UNDER ONE ROOF, reality TV star/former Public Enemy Flavor Flav stars as Calvester Hill, an ex-con who moves in with his wealthy, overachieving brother Winston (Kelly Perine) after his latest stint in the slammer. While getting used to life outside the big house, he gets to know Winston's wife, Ashley (Carrie Genzel); their rather ditzy and sex-crazed daughter, Heather (Marie Michel); and geeky son, Winston Jr. (Jesse Reid). Not surprisingly, Calvester's street-smarts and Winston's rather uptight demeanor lead to some wacky situations along the way.
Is it any good?
The series, which is an update/remake of a mild 1990s sitcom about a multigenerational African-American family, parallels the premise of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air by centering around the tension that occurs when a less-privileged but streetwise person starts living with his upper-class extended family. But unlike the original Roof series or Fresh Prince, this show relies heavily on negative cultural representations to get laughs. The show's characters personify many of the disparaging labels placed on African-Americans today, from morality-lacking pimps to promiscuous single mothers. It also targets other racial and ethnic groups, as well as women and homosexuals. As a result, the show isn't just silly and insulting but also creates harmful social images.
Granted, the relationship between Calvester and Winston is a positive one, and the family continues to support their troubled relative despite being unimpressed by his antics. But any positive messages stemming from this relationship are offset by the show's offensive humor. Plus, there's some strong language ("bitch" and "dumb ass"), sexual innuendo, and lots of conversations about criminal acts that range from stealing to murder. The series isn't intended for young viewers and is an iffy choice for teens who aren't mature enough to understand this kind of comedy. And even for those who like this brand of wit, the bottom line is that it's just not very funny.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about racial and ethnic stereotyping in the media. Is stereotyping ever appropriate? Is there such thing as a positive stereotype? Does the media create stereotypes or does it simply reflect stereotypes that currently exist in society? When the media portrays stereotypes, what is the consequence on audiences?