We can debate the pros and cons of social networking until the cows grow opposable thumbs and begin to text each other. For many folks, sites like Facebook and Twitter have been a boon, allowing them to contact old high school friends, keep in touch with family and spend gazillions of expendable hours playing FarmVille.
In the negative column, you need look no further than the new Twitter-inspired sitcom $#*! My Dad Says.
The show is based on Justin Halpern's "S‑‑‑ My Dad Says" Twitter feed. The title is self-explanatory: Halpern's salty father says something outrageous, Halpern repeats it on Twitter and boom!—instant fame and fortune. In just over a year, Halpern has parlayed his dad's crass witticisms into a bestselling book, 1.7 million followers and, of course, this new CBS comedy.
Weirdly, the rhythm of the show feels, in some respects, old-fashioned. The plot—twentysomething son Henry gets laid off and moves back in with Ed, his crotchety dad—could've been pirated from a 1970s or '80s sitcom. And its standard setup-punchline cadence feels far removed from the rapid-fire social networking tool from which it sprang.
While controversy over its title has dogged the series, Halpern's R-rated missives have been toned down for broadcast prime-time TV. There's even a salient, sweet purpose here: Father and son, long estranged, make slow, halting progress toward having a real relationship with one another. "No matter how old your kids get, it's never too late to be a dad," says a surprisingly helpful DMV official in the pilot. And while Ed is as prickly as they come, we viewers know he means well.
That doesn't mean the show's content fails to live up (or down, as the case may be) to 21st-century "standards." Stars William Shatner and Jonathan Sadowski still spout profanity—along with scads of allusions to sex, private body parts and bodily functions.
When Ed tells Harvey that it's good to show a little patience with folks sometimes, because they're just doing the best they can, he amends himself by saying that Henry won't get that sort of slack from him.
"You can do better," Ed says.
We'd say the same thing about $#*! My Dad Says.
After not seeing his thrice-divorced father for two years, unemployed Henry slinks over to Ed's house to ask for money. Ed does nothing to hide his disappointment in his son when Henry finally gets to the point. But, after realizing that his curmudgeonly ways are pushing his family away from him, Ed buys Henry a bed and invites him to live with him.
Characters say "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑," "a‑‑," "p‑‑‑ed" and several slang words for testicles. There are several uncomfortable double-entendres. References are made to noisy sex, mysterious stains on mattresses and bodily processes. Ed references breasts and the birthing process in his jokes, recalls telling a young Henry that his haircut made him look like a lesbian in the navy and tells a DMV official that he seems "like a perfectly nice homosexual." (The DMV guy says he does his best.) Ed also mistakenly threatens Henry with a shotgun, says that Girl Scouts are like "beggars with merit badges" and talks about how he flung a raccoon around by its tail.