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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Weird City is an anthology series about a dystopian future world where wealthy people and the not-so-wealthy are separated by a physical barrier. Mature content varies with each episode, but overall the tone is light, violence is toned down, as is sex and language. Characters do have romantic relationships with each other; expect same- and opposite-sex kissing and implied sex and nudity (i.e. a couple is together in bed with shirts off, breathing hard and talking about what just happened). Sex can be central to the plot of some episodes, like one in which college students mostly sext each other instead of having sex (but again, we don't see anything but kissing). Violence has a satirical, goofy edge, like when a man attacks a bully's arm and what's obviously a mannequin arm twists unnaturally. Some scenes take place in bars with characters drinking (but not getting drunk), and addiction (to an energy drink) is a subplot in at least one episode. Some characters vape in brief scenes. Language is infrequent: "s--t," "hell," "screw," "pissing." Interesting ideas may spark viewer's curiosity, as well as conversations, and women and people of color have strong roles both behind and in front of the camera.
What's the story?
In the WEIRD CITY of the future, a literal line has been drawn between the wealthy people Above the Line and the poor struggling folks Below the Line. On each side, characters struggle with the expectations placed on them by their society, as well as with the technology that's supposed to be serving their needs. Each episode zooms in on a different individual's life in the city, and at least one thing's immediately clear -- there are plenty of problems both Above and Below.
Is it any good?
Almost like a comic Black Mirror, this lighthearted series has plenty to say about the way we live today, but it's so much fun to watch that heavy messages land lightly. The team of co-creators behind Weird City (including Jordan Peele) have fashioned a thrillingly meaty setting that looks incredible -- the haves/have-nots conflict that's central to the show is immediately clear in the show's first shots, with Above the Line resembling a glittering neon-lit metropolis, Below the Line a browned-out dilapidated slum. It's a perfect device for injecting class conflict into what's basically a satirical science fiction fantasy.
Of course, like all anthologies, some episodes are better than others. The series gets off to an incredibly strong start with "The One," with a whimsical May-December romance between Ed O'Neill and Dylan O'Brien that nimbly mocks, among other things, computer algorithms, online dating, psychology, and the state's interest in marriage and procreation. Next entry "A Family," surely one of Michael Cera's strangest roles, is harder to connect with and offers more in terms of spectacle and oddness than relatable emotions. But there's so much talent working behind the camera (with beloved directors like Amy Heckerling and Fargo's Adam Bernstein) and in front of it (quirky guest stars include LeVar Burton, Sara Gilbert, and Awkwafina), viewers who appreciate a good future dystopia tale should be all in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the themes featured in Weird City. What are these stories saying about the way our society uses technology like smart phones, and people's fascination with social media? Do you think the show's dark, satirical style helps make these points? Or does it detract from them?
The episodes are all different, but many center on common themes, such as selfish people finally getting what they deserve, or the unexpected rewards of doing the right thing. Did the characters merit their punishments? Why or why not? What might you have done in a similar situation? What point is the show trying to make? Are the messages similar to those you have seen in other science fiction anthologies? Or different?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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