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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Young Rock is a sitcom that explores the origin story of wrestler-actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson through four eras of his life. At 10, in 1982, he's an impressionable boy who worships his father and his fellow wrestlers in Hawaii; the wrestlers are partiers who drink a lot, and women want them to sign their chests. At 15, in high school in Pennsylvania, Johnson and his family are poor and he steals expensive clothing to appear rich. In his college years, his father lies to his teammates "to make him look good," claiming that Johnson was going to appear on a Wheaties box. Throughout the show, the faux-violence of professional wrestling is featured. Teenage Dwayne punches another boy who calls the wrestling "fake."
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What's the Story?
The premise of the comedy YOUNG ROCK is that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (playing himself) is running for U.S. president in 2032 and has sat down with a journalist (Randall Park) to review his unconventional upbringing and career. The series covers three sections of young Johnson's life: in Hawaii as a child with his parents and an extended family of real wrestlers, including Junkyard Dog, The Wild Samoans, The Iron Sheik, and most memorably Andre the Giant; his teen years in Pennsylvania when he got into petty crime to create the illusion that he was rich; and his college years as a football star at University of Miami.
Is It Any Good?
Fresh Off the Boat creator Nahnatchka Khan returns to broadcast TV with a similar-feeling sitcom, but covering the life of a superstar, with him telling his own story, has its pitfalls. Even if viewers come to Young Rock knowing little about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's past as the son of a pro wrestler, and star of WWE, the Fast and Furious franchise, Ballers, and the Jumanji reboot, this would still be an engrossing series. The three actors who play Johnson at 10 (Adrian Groulx), 15 (Bradley Constant), and college age (Uli Latukefu) are remarkably well cast -- you can see how they all are pieces of "The Rock." The depiction of '80s pro wrestling is colorful and insightful, and GenX parents will appreciate the care taken with the soundtrack, clothes, and decor.
Unfortunately, the Young Rock framing device takes viewers immediately out of Johnson's story. Johnson actually did dip his toe in the political waters after Donald Trump's election, and he's coyly said when asked about political ambitions "That would be up to the people." It's difficult, then, not to see Young Rock as a potentially lengthy, undoubtedly sanitized introduction of a future presidential candidate to the American public.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about biographical shows about real people. Which parts do you think are 100% true? Which parts do you think are made up or exaggerated? How does that affect how you see the show?
How is the audience supposed to feel about the Johnson family? Are we supposed to laugh at them? With them?
How do the characters in Young Rock demonstrate perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?
- Premiere date: February 16, 2021
- Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Randall Park, Joseph Lee Anderson
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: November 29, 2022
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