Who wants to laugh at alcoholism, overweight kids, and racist jokes?By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media TV editor
Every fall the networks barrage the TV-viewing audience with new shows. Luckily, this year teens and families have several great options to choose from, but as usual, expect a few bombs.
With cliches, laugh tracks, and tasteless humor, these five shows are either just plain bad or include some really rotten messages for kids and families. Watch if you will, but make sure to start conversations with kids about why some TV shows resort to using stereotypes and touchy topics to get laughs. (Hint: Ka-ching!)
Dads, 1 star, pause 14+
If you're craving jokes about clueless old guys or sexy Asian schoolgirls, then you should tune in to Dads. But if you're not that into stereotypes about gender, ethnicity, age, and more, you've come to the wrong place. Asian American organizations have asked the network to reshoot the pilot because of an offensive plot point, and they've refused. Edgy comedy is one thing; this is something entirely different.
Mom, 2 stars, pause 15+
Who thinks alcoholism is funny? Anyone? This show, starring the otherwise funny Anna Faris and Allison Janney, revels in jokes about addiction (and bad parenting as a result of), cocaine, pot, and drug dealing. Add this to the laughs about a teen girl having sex with her boyfriend in her bedroom because she's completely unsupervised and we're all just yukking it up. Except making jokes from the Alcoholics Anonymous podium just feels sad, not funny.
Back in the Game, 2 stars, pause 13+
Continuing the theme of moms, dads, alcoholism, and bad jokes, we have Back in the Game. This Bad News Bears retread belongs back in the '70s, where it evidently came from. James Caan clearly needs some extra cash because he's hamming it up in this "family" comedy as an alcoholic curmudgeon who was a terrible father and is now going to be some sort of wonderful grandpa. Except he makes fun of kids for being overweight or effeminate, and when someone disses his grandson, he smashes their car with a crowbar... because that's how mature folks solve problems!
Sean Saves the World
Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) is a single dad of a teenage girl who's recently come back into his life. This one isn't 100 percent awful: It has some sweet parenting moments and Sean clearly wants to be a good dad. But can someone tell Hollywood that laugh tracks are the opposite of funny? Mix the multi-camera approach with the fake guffaws, jokes about Sean's overbearing mom, and Hayes' manic overacting and you get something very, very unpleasant. Megan Hilty (Smash) stars as Sean's best friend, and in one episode she takes his teen daughter bra shopping and suggests bras based on their ability to get guys to like her. Ugh.
We Are Men, 1 star, pause 13+
How many stereotypes about men can you pack into a single show? The writers of We Are Men are clearly having a contest because they include beer drinking, barbequing, basketball-playing, and lying to women in the pilot episode. But women aren't left out entirely -- according to this show, women are either control freaks who go crazy for farmers' markets or "whores." Tony Shalhoub, who was pretty funny on Monk, stars here as four-time divorcee who now only dates very young Asian women... charming. For a show that encourages viewers to "embrace your manhood," it has a very narrow definition of what it means to be a man.
What shows are on your "worst" list? (Follow me on Twitter!)
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