Wonderfalls

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Wonderfalls TV Poster Image
Quirky heroine helps people in need; some sexy stuff.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Helping people in need is Wonderfalls' central theme, and most episodes end on a positive note without being preachy. The show also suggests that, by helping others, you can help yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jaye starts out as a bitter, socially withdrawn underachiever who steers clear of her dysfunctional family, but she undergoes significant change over the course of the series. She might not always make the "right" choices, but she is always outspoken, independent, and intelligent.

Violence

Any violence -- like punching, falling, stabbing someone in the throat with a pen -- is played for comedy. Minimal blood.

Sex

Romantic subplots include implied sex with some partial nudity (male chests, legs), but no sensitive body parts are shown. Sexual humor includes jokes about orgasms, etc. Jaye's older sister is a lesbian but keeps her sexuality a secret.

Language

Steady use of gateway terms like "ass," "bitch," "piss off," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jaye frequents a bar called The Barrel and drinks socially with her friend, sometimes doing shots, etc. But she rarely appears drunk. A secondary character smokes cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wonderfalls promotes the idea that helping one person can change the lives of many -- not just the person you're singling out. The show doesn't really focus on sex, but it does have some romantic subplots that include implied intercourse, partial nudity, and a woman who is hiding the fact that she's a lesbian. You'll also hear some sexually charged humor, along with regular use of gateway words like "pissed," "bitch," and "ass," and see characters frequenting a local bar where they drink socially. Any violence is comedic in nature -- from plummeting into Niagara Falls to stabbing a man in the throat with a pen -- and there's very little blood.

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What's the story?

While working at the WONDERFALLS Gift Emporium in touristy Niagara Falls, Ivy League graduate turned sarcastic sales clerk Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas) starts hearing voices, beginning with a talking wax lion who starts barking out unusual orders. Soon enough, a reluctant Jaye is stalking perfect strangers who need her help, getting closer to her older sister (Katie Finneran), and falling for a bartender (Tyron Leitso) with a broken heart.

Is it any good?

For most people, Wonderfalls will fall into that category of "One of the Best Shows You've Never Even Heard Of," thanks to a quick cancelation that yanked it off the air after less than a month. But even though it only comprises 13 episodes, the quirky comedy's lone first season is still worth watching because it concludes with a satisfying end that doesn't completely resolve Jaye's destiny but also doesn't leave you feeling completely cheated.

Savvy viewers might make note of Wonderfalls' subtle similarities to Pushing Daisies, another comedy that was arguably canceled too soon. And they'd be right on point, too, considering both series were created by Bryan Fuller and explored the themes of fate, destiny, and romance with an offbeat sense of humor that, while not widely appreciated, at the very least invited critical acclaim. Actor Lee Pace also appears in both series, playing Jaye's brother Aaron in Wonderfalls three years before stepping into the role of Daisies' delicious pie man, Ned.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Wonderfalls' heroine and how she stacks up as a role model. How does Jaye compare to the female leads you usually see on television? What changes does she undergo over the course of the series?

  • Why do you think Wonderfalls never attracted a wider audience? Would the show have fared better following today's trend toward more user-driven content?

  • Have you ever helped someone you didn't know? How did it turn out in the end? How different would the world be if more people stepped outside themselves to help others?

TV details

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