Parents' Guide to

Vice Principals

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Fitfully amusing comedy has a dark, cruel streak.

TV HBO Comedy 2016
Vice Principals Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 18+

The Only

age 16+

Painfully funny and darkly cruel

A hilarious dark comedy from the minds behind Eastbound & Down is definitely for the mature teen.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (3):

Bruise-dark and fitfully funny, this comedy would be a lot easier to like if the two-white-dudes-against-one-black-woman structure didn't carry uncomfortable racist and sexist overtones with it. High schools, with their shifting alliances and Machiavellian politics, are an excellent setting for low-stakes dark comedies -- we only need to look back on the evergreen Election for proof of that -- and creator Jody Hill is similarly well-suited to wringing comedy from unlikable characters trapped in uncomfortable situations. But the underlying racial/gender overtones of this particular comedy can make the laughs a little strained. McBride, of course, excels at playing blowhards who are so obnoxious mainly because they feel small and overlooked, and he's in fine form here, as is Goggins, delightful in his kiss-uppery. But it's sometimes hard to watch two dudes vowing to destroy a powerful woman, even if the woman is clearly undaunted by the threat. It all sends a "punching down" vibe that renders the whole show a little more icky.

Still, there are great gags. McBride is unhappily divorced from ex Gail (Busy Phillips), who's now engaged to a hilariously easygoing new fella, Ray (Shea Whigham), full of support for Gamby even as the embittered vice principal curses him out. Goggins is also a scream, smiling ingratiatingly with dead eyes at anyone who buys his schtick, rubbing the principal's back and ego, and scheming madly behind the scenes. It's funny stuff -- if you can ignore the actually dark aspects of this murky comedy.

TV Details

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