What Happens at the Abbey

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
What Happens at the Abbey TV Poster Image
Iconic bar gets reality treatment; lots of booze and sex.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The bar creates an safe environment for the LGBTQ community. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Folks range from friends and lovers to competitive and snarky. 


Lots of arguing, yelling; some object throwing. References to the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub. 


Strong sexual innuendo, including crude references, hypersexual behavior, skimpy outfits, go-go dancers, blurred nudity. 


“Damn,” “ass,” bitch;" "s--t," "f--k," "c--t" and other curses partially bleeped. 


It’s a promotional vehicle for The Abbey. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Endless drinking (cocktails, champagne, shots, etc.), drunken behavior. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What Happens At The Abbey is a reality series featuring lots of drinking, strong sexual innuendo (including blurred nudity), as well as other mature themes. There’s lots of hedonistic behavior, relationship drama, and silly arguments (sometimes people throw stuff, too). The 2016 Pulse Club shooting is occasionally referenced. The series is a promotional vehicle for The Abbey bar and nightclub, but also highlights its significance and the inclusive culture that defines it.  

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What's the story?

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE ABBEY is a reality series about the staff at West Hollywood’s legendary gay bar and nightclub. When founder and CEO David Cooley opened The Abbey in 1991, it was intended to create a safe space for the gay community that welcomed others. Now his establishment enjoys the patronage from people from all walks of life, including celebs ranging from Caitlyn Jenner to Tori Spelling and Dita Von Teese. The staff, which includes folks like management trainer Chelsea Jeffers, VIP Hosts Brandi Andrews and Lawrence Carroll, bartender Kyle Clarke, and servers like model Daniel Eide and Long Island transplant Marissa Chykirda, know that working at The Abbey is not only prestigious and lucrative, but a great place to be discovered. They love their jobs, but thanks to their personal lives, there’s a lot of drama behind the scenes. 

Is it any good?

This unscripted series showcases the colorful and energetic world the iconic nightclub is known for, but it ends up following the standard reality show format. It underscores the importance of the culture from which it comes from, but also highlights the reasons why The Abbey has diversified its clientele. However, most of these themes are overshadowed by the cast and the drama it creates thanks to its hedonistic and narcissistic behavior.  

From taking clothing optional yoga classes, to chronicling the efforts of a gay man and lesbian woman are making to have a baby, What Happens At The Abbey doesn’t lack for storylines. But trying to keep tabs on the all the sexual entanglements and gossipy conversations between cast members takes some effort. If you are a fan of catty of reality fare, it won’t disappoint. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the reasons why people create “safe spaces” for members of certain groups to come together. Given that people’s attitudes are changing about the LGBTQ communities, is it still important to create spaces that are exclusively for them? 

  • Why do many reality tv series feature behaviors like getting drunk and hyper sexual behavior? Does this make shows like What Happens At The Abbey more entertaining?  

TV details

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For kids who love reality TV

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