Genre: Reality TV
TV Rating: TV-14
Other Choices: Pawn Stars, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business
Available On: Online
Common Sense Says: Quirky characters, salty talk make for funny reality.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that reality show Small Town Security is populated by quirky characters, chief among them is Joan Koplan, a sixtyish woman with a sailor-like affinity for cursing ("f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped) and a taste for cigars and pornography (blurred). Another character is a female-to-male transgendered person who is open about his background and married to a woman with three kids; his co-workers are supportive to various degrees. The JJK employees have very frank and salty conversations amongst themselves, such as when they sit around discussing who's been making a mess on the company toilet seat. Despite that, the employees and management of JJK take each other, their work, and their clients seriously, an uplifting thing to see.
- Families can talk about why the name of this show spotlights the fact that JJK Security is located in a small town. Why is this important enough to put in the title? What assumptions do we make about people or things from small towns? Does the idea of a small town have positive or negative connotations?
- Would the creators of Small Town Security have built a show around JJK Security if a transgendered person was not on staff? What is it about Lt. Croft and his background that makes the show more interesting?
- Do you think the makers of Small Town Security like Joan Koplan? What about the way she is depicted makes you draw that conclusion? Do you think that viewers are supposed to like Joan Koplan?
What's the story?
In tiny Ringgold, Georgia (population: about 3,000), Joan Koplan is the big cheese at JJK Security, the tiny family-run business at the center of SMALL TOWN SECURITY. Joan wanted to be a singer or a television star, but when those dreams didn't pan out, she moved into law enforcement. Now she runs JJK Security with the help of her husband, Irwin Koplan, her faithful sidekick Lieutenant Dennis Croft, a man with an interesting past, secretary Christa Stephens, and office manager Brian Taylor. They've each got their quirks, which they bicker over at length when times are slow in the JJK offices. But when it's time to make sure something or someone is kept safe, the JJK officers are on the job.
Is it any good?
The airwaves are rife with reality shows set in the South, and too often they're just an excuse to make fun of country folk. But Small Town Security treats its subjects with delicacy and respect, lending sweetness to a show that could have been Reno 911!-ish. Central character Joan Koplan is a corker, simultaneously vulgar and sweet, unashamed about being a sixtyish hedonist with a dirty mind and a lust for fame. Her mission in life, she shares, was "either be a police officer or a celebrity. I've always had a quest for attention." At the center of the action at JJK, she answers calls and dispatches business crisply, before turning her attention to more interesting office matters such as trying to figure out which employee should fairly be tasked with cleaning the office bathroom.It's not very exciting to watch a security officer at work, standing stiffly on guard, so Small Town Security wisely dispenses with most of those scenes in favor of watching the JJK officers gossiping or going about their daily lives. One fertile source of gossip is the private life of Lieutenant Dennis Croft, who was born a woman, and whose female-to-male transformation has scandalized some in Ringgold, including some of Croft's co-workers. Joan Koplan, however, is supportive of Croft, and both she and the show treat Croft as just another JJK-er, hard at work at a job that often goes unnoticed.
The Good Stuff
Messages: The virtues of hard work are on display, with a successful family-run business at the center of the action. The employees and management of JJK bicker like family members too, but an atmosphere of support and respect pervades Small Town Security's workplace.
Role Models: Though the JJK professionals may bicker at the office, on the job they take their work seriously and spend time onscreen learning how to be better security officers. Joan Koplan is salty and a little dirty, but she respects her employees and treats them well.
What to watch out for
Violence As a security firm, some discussion of crime and crime prevention occurs, but that's not really the focus.
Sex: Joan Koplan and other JJK employees are enthusiastic consumers of adult books and magazines, some of which are shown (blurred) onscreen. Occasional talk about virginity, vaginas, OBGYNs, etc.
Language: Lots of bleeped cursing: "f--k," "s--t," etc. There's also plenty of salty/rough language, such as when Irwin Koplan informs his coworkers that he's been making a mess in the company bathroom because when he sits down on the toilet to go pee, "My testicles descend into the water every time."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Joan Koplan smokes cigars onscreen.