It’s another slow night in the world of TV, so I thought I’d drop in a quick refresher on what’s what with the ratings and how I determine what to post. I like to think that it’s all very self-explanatory, but I know that as soon as I assume that, someone will wonder…
First up, the purpose of the site is to help you find shows to watch as a family. As in, together. Which means you’re not going to find a lot of toddler and kiddie shows here. For one thing, there are other forums for that, including the excellent CommonSenseMedia. For another, I find most programming for small children pretty sick-making. If your children are a range of ages, I can just imagine the teasing and other negative behaviors brought on by being made to watch My Little Pony just because your little brother is too young for Mythbusters.
My goal is to provide you with enough information about what’s on so that you can make up your own mind about what is and is not appropriate for your individual family. I do it with a more comprehensive review, but also with a quick ratings systems for those days when you just don’t have time for more than a line or two. The problem with ratings is that it’s sometimes hard to tell by a number or stars just what the reviewer has an issue with (and we all have different issues). Also, the context of a show may mitigate what would otherwise be a problem, such as a movie about breast cancer or a documentary about racial violence. Both can provide some rather graphic images, but in doing so provide some important life lessons. So I chose to use quick, one-line descriptors that should give you a fair picture, with more details to follow.
And I blush to disclose that my rating system was based on my prime beef with CommonSenseMedia, namely that their system, while very comprehensive, is a tad too complicated for my tastes. So I broke it down into three main areas – who’s going to be interested, what to watch out for and how good it is, or the Friendly, Safety and Quality ratings.
Family friendly is not the same thing as family safe. Most programming for small children is family safe, but as noted above, not everyone in the family will want to watch. And even if a show is totally not appropriate for elementary school age kids doesn’t mean it isn’t marketed at them or interesting to them. So the Friendly Rating is all about who might be interested in a given show, whether or not there are issues with the content of the show.
The safety rating is all about stuff you may or may not want to watch out for. Typically, these fall into the areas of violence, sexual content, foul language, advertising, negative behaviors and stereotypes. We all have different issues with different aspects of this in varying degrees. I confess, I tend to worry less about violence and more about sexual content and gender stereotyping. Which means if I’m saying something is really violent, hold onto your hats.
Quality is probably the most subjective aspect of all, and I am probably one of the few critics on the planet who will admit my mood can affect a review. We all try to be objective, but we’re all human here. And we all have genres and interests that affect what we do and don’t like. So I not only invite comments (just keep it reasonably polite, please), but if there’s a show that I didn’t like that you did, feel free to ask me to look at it again.
Finally, my criteria for selecting shows. This, too, is somewhat subjective. I can’t feature everything – time is a cruel mistress, indeed.
I try to feature shows that are good or that you might like. There’s enough negativism out there and my goal is to point toward. Okay, occasionally, I’ll feature a show I hated because it is a lot of fun to write a really scathing pan. But more often, the reason a bad show got featured is because it passed the “side of the bus” test – as in it was widely promoted in places where kids were likely to see the promotion and be curious about a show. Ergo, they’re asking you about it, ergo, you want to know about it.
If a show is only moderately good, but has some redeeming feature or interesting aspect, I’ll probably feature that, as well. If I didn’t, there wouldn’t be much to post about.
Finally, there are some shows that won’t appear on the site at all because they are just so icky, I can’t even give them the publicity of a bad review. It is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity – I’ve heard producers say more than once that they hope their controversial show will get protested because it does draw viewers.
So that’s how things work here. If you’ve got an idea about how to make it better or even want to know why a show didn’t turn up, please let me know. You can comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.