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TV Series Review

The late comedian Gilda Radner once said that "cancer is probably the most unfunny thing in the world." But that hasn't stopped Netflix from trying to craft a teen-centric comedy about it.

Alexa has cancer. Or, more appropriately, had it.

The disease worked its anti-magic on the girl throughout the first season: Poof! No more hair! Presto! You're tired all the time! For Alexa, who wants nothing more than to be a normal high schooler, the inconvenience of cancer is almost as bad as the disease itself. What she wouldn't do to try out for the basketball team or keep people from pitying her.

Thank goodness for Katie, her next-door neighbor and best friend. When Alexa lost her hair, Katie shaved hers off, too—as a show of sisterly solidarity. They both wore wigs for a time, but when Katie's fell off one day, everyone assumed that she was the one with cancer—giving Alexa two blissful episodes of normalcy before the real truth came out.

The Big C (As In Comedy)

With the show now in its second season (released, as happens with Netflix, in one big mass), Alexa's cancer is in remission, and things are a bit more normal now. But normal, in this sitcom, is a relative descriptor.##

Alexa's family—her high-strung mom, harried dad and hair-obsessed older brother, Lucas—are hardly the picture of normalcy even under the most normal circumstances. But cancer, like the worst of houseguests, leaves quite the mess. And even though Alexa is free of it for now, her family is understandably nervous that it just might show up again.

Then there's Katie, who's hardly a picture of stability herself. The accident-prone teen always seems to have the best of intentions, but those intentions can lead to the worst of outcomes. Her single mom, Jennifer, tries to help when she can, but … well, single mothers are pretty harried, too. And little brother Jack is always good for a little trouble.

Nothing Wrong with the Heart. But the Funny Bone?

Traditional multi-camera sitcoms, long the norm in television history, are rare as narwhal teeth these days. But they still have a home in the hearts of many a kid and teen, thanks to their continued proliferation on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Many future superstars (Miley Cyrus, Arianna Grande, Zendaya, etc.) cut their own teeth in the format, and many a youth has lived vicariously—and maybe even learned a thing or two—through these reasonably safe, reasonably family-friendly programs.

Now Netflix, determined to have a show to fit every possible niche, is hopping on the teen-centric, multi-camera train in the hopes of riding it to another hit. And that's both good and bad for any would-be viewers.

Clearly, the show means well: This sitcom is, above all, about Alexa and her extended family, all of whom care about the teen deeply and ride her agonizing ups and downs right along with her. There's real affection here, and that's nice to see.

And for the most part, Alexa & Katie feels relatively innocent and innocuous. Violence is always slapstick. Sexual allusions are as scarce as fabric in Miley Cyrus' current wardrobe. The worst words you're likely to hear from characters' mouths are "gosh" and "sucks."

But Alexa & Katie still strays a bit from Disney's perfected sitcom formula. Parents, while clearly caring and occasionally wise, are sometimes a bit clueless, too—seen by Alexa and Katie as obstacles to lie to and manipulate. Some of the wardrobe choices can be a tad risqué, as well. And when it comes to the show's quality … well, let's just say that maybe Radner had a point.

But despite those shortcomings, Alexa & Katie manages to be fairly navigable for families. This show has more than a laugh track. It has a heart, too. And that's something we don't say too often these days.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Dec. 27, 2018: "Second First Day"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Paris Berelc as Alexa Mendoza; Isabel May as Katie Cooper; Jolie Jenkins as Jennifer Cooper; Emery Kelly as Lucas Mendoza; Eddie Shin as Dave Mendoza; Finn Carr as Jack Cooper; Tiffani Thiessen as Lori Mendoza; Merit Leighton as Hannah; Iman Benson as Reagan; Jack Griffo as Dylan; Nathaniel J. Potvin as Ryan; Kerri Medders as Gwenny

Director

Distributor

Network

Netflix

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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