Network: ABC Family
TV Rating: TV-14
Other Choices: Raising Hope, Modern Family, The Middle
Available On: Online
Common Sense Says: Sweet sitcom about single dad has sexual undertones.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Baby Daddy taps into a lighthearted -- and greatly oversimplified -- look at single parenting for most of its laughs. The series has some positive things going for it, like a gender role twist that leads an unsuspecting new father to step up to the plate when the mother throws in the towel, and a reliable support system of friends and family who pitch in to help. But there's a sexual tone to the dialogue -- especially in references to the brief relationship that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy -- as well as some language ("ass," "damn," "boobs," "swear to God") and casual drinking to consider when weighing its appropriateness for your teens.
- Families can talk about parenting. Do you think Baby Daddy paints an accurate picture of life as a single parent? What financial or emotional issues does it not address that would be a challenge in a real-world setting?
- Teens: How are relationships portrayed in entertainment? Do sitcoms and movies gloss over the impact and consequences of casual sexual encounters? Does marriage get a fair shake?
- How do today's standards compare to those of decades ago when it comes to marriage and family life? Does this change reflect the direction society is headed, or does what we see on TV influence how we perceive others' lifestyles?
What's the story?
In BABY DADDY, contented twentysomething bachelor Ben Wheeler (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) is loving living the single life with his best friend, Tucker (Tahj Mowry), and his professional-hockey-playing brother, Danny (Derek Theler), in their New York City apartment. But everything changes when his ex-girlfriend drops their baby on his doorstep and disappears, leaving Ben to choose between his sense of duty and the path he envisioned for his life. No one is more surprised than he is when he falls head over heels in love with little Emma and opts to raise her, but everyone -- including his childhood friend, Riley (Chelsea Kane), who's back in his life and harboring a secret crush on Ben -- offers to pitch in and help him learn the ropes of parenting.
Is it any good?
Unexpected single parenting isn't a new shtick in the comedy genre, and Baby Daddy has a lot of funny elements that harken back to classics like Three Men and a Baby and Look Who's Talking. But what easily could be a trite rehashing of the man-learns-to-cope-with-baby's-bodily-functions quips (of which there are plenty) turns out to have some heart, not just in Ben's developing affection for his baby daughter but also in the relationships among the adult cast. Not even a love triangle between the brothers and Riley darkens the sense of camaraderie that exists among this likable group of characters.Still, as funny and sweet as Baby Daddy can be, the fact that it glosses over the type of casual physical relationship that eventually led to the darling baby at the center of the story says a lot about how sexuality tends to be portrayed on TV. While the dialogue isn't quite as bold as what you might hear on many primetime network shows, any teen with a keen ear and some curiosity will pick up on references to "intimacy" and a mental calculation of how old a baby is based on the timing of a sexual encounter, so if yours do tune in, be proactive in discussing responsible sexuality with them and pointing out the differences between the show's rosy view of single parenting and the real-life version.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Baby Daddy turns the tables on traditional gender roles by casting a father as the one who redesigns his life to accommodate an unexpected baby and reaps the emotional benefits from the connection to his daughter. With Ben's support system pitching in to help, the show reflects the changing picture of modern families and the importance of having a "village." Although there are references to casual relationships in the characters' pasts, it's obvious that they're searching for meaningful, lasting connections for their futures as well as for Emma's. On the downside, the show does sanitize the financial and emotional struggles of single parenting.
Role Models: Ben makes a life-changing choice to raise his baby daughter, and the experience changes him for the better. His family and friends also step up to help out, surrounding Emma with a well-intentioned, if not always perfect, support system.
What to watch out for
Violence Some friendly roughhousing (pinching, slapping, etc.) between adults, plus rink brawls during scenes at hockey games.
Sex: Suggestive undertones to dialogue, especially in reference to the short-lived relationship that resulted in baby Emma. There's a lot of flirting, some kissing, and implications of sex (it's assumed that a girlfriend spent the night at a guy's apartment, for instance), but very little in the way of physical contact.
Language: "Ass," "damn," "swear to God," and "crap," plus body references like "boobs." Ben and Danny often refer to Riley as their childhood nickname for her, "Fatpants."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Alcohol is frequently present at meals and in social settings, but adults don't overindulge.