By Matt Springer,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Druggy, vulgar high-concept comedy is short on laughs.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's fundamental message revolves around following your desires instead of trying to fit into the mold that society has constructed for you. The lead character struggles with his job and life choices before deciding to go after what he really wants, whatever that may be. Humor is frequently scatological in nature and occasionally relies upon stereotypes, such as the idea that Asian food is believed to utilize strange animals for meat products.
Positive Role Models
There is little that's redeeming about any of the characters. They engage in negative behavior throughout and treat each other poorly. Even supporting characters and family members of the leads are portrayed as nagging, obnoxious people.
Violence & Scariness
There is little on-camera violence except for the occasional comedic punch on the arm. However, the dialogue is peppered with threats of violence and violent language. The pilot episode also opens with an extended comedy sequence involving the lead character's various attempts to commit suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While there is little human sexual content, there are a great deal of sexual euphemisms used in a derogatory manner, and heavy sexual innuendo throughout. There is also a running joke involving a dog (in human form) engaging in intercourse with human legs and inanimate objects.
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Though there is no appearance of the "F" word, the show utilizes every other word it can find, from frequent usage of "s--t" and "ass" to explicit sexual terms such as "d--k" and "p---y."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some episodes use marijuana as a plot point and both the main character and dog/human character smoke pot regularly. There is also frequent social drinking and a character who chain smokes throughout every episode.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this adult cable comedy series relies upon vulgarity, stereotypes, and sexual innuendo for most of its humor. The language is questionable throughout with no bleeping of even the strongest words ("ass, "s--t," "p---y," etc.). Scatological and culturally offensive jokes are peppered throughout the dialogue, from both the lead and supporting characters. Heavy recreational drug use from the lead characters is frequently depicted on screen. The tone of the show's humor is unrepentantly dark.
Where to Watch
Based on 5 parent reviews
Sucks that it's being cancelled
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What's the Story?
Ryan (Elijah Wood) is having a hard time of it -- so hard, in fact, that he's ready to end it all. After a night of failed suicide attempts, his cute new neighbor comes by to ask a favor -- would he be willing to dogsit for her while the exterminator is over? And so Ryan meets WILFRED, the series' title character. Wilfred (Jason Gann) is a dog. Everyone else in Ryan's universe sees him as a dog. But when Ryan sees Wilfred, he sees a surly, vulgar, insightful guy in a dog suit. Wilfred eats chips, drinks beer, smokes cigarettes, and also happens to enjoy the typical behavior of any other red-blooded American dog, including chasing cars and licking faces. As Ryan's world disintegrates around his new relationship with a talking dog, he also begins to learn the value of abandoning what his family expects him to be, and instead pursuing what he really wants for his life.
Is It Any Good?
There's the germ of a great comedy series at the heart of Wilfred, which takes the term "high concept" to a whole new level. A talking dog that gives a sad-sack single dude advice, especially one with as much personality as actor Jason Gann brings to the role, could have a long life on cable as an underground cult hit. But the show has too much cheap vulgarity and inexplicable racial humor to properly support its clever concept.
When it comes to cable shows, there are still moments when it feels as though writers have a certain quota to fill on scatological jokes, swear words, and sexual innuendo in order to get a paycheck. Wilfred often feels as though it's merely trying to provide cheap shocks and occasional laughs, rather than anything more substantial. If the occasional laughs were more plentiful, or even if the offensive jokes were at least funny, that might help redeem the show. Instead, Wilfred is a dog -- both the character and the show.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the heavy recreational drug use portrayed on the series. Does the show try to glorify drug use?
What do you think about the show's comedic style? Is the originality appealing, or just strange? Why are so many TV shows similar in tone and format?
- Premiere date: June 23, 2011
- Cast: Elijah Wood, Fiona Gubelmann, Jason Gann
- Network: FX
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
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