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Series / The Kids Are Alright (2018)

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The Kids Are Alright is a semi-autobiographical American Dom Com that premiered on ABC in 2018. It was inspired by the childhood of creator Tim Doyle, who also acts as the show's narrator.

Mike and Peggy Cleary are a working class Irish-American couple raising their eight sons (with a 20 year gap between the eldest and youngest) in suburban Los Angeles during the 1970s. The show is primarily told from the perspective of Timmy, the fifth son, as he tries to figure out how to navigate adolescence and his large and loud family.

Not to be confused with The Kids Are Alright, a documentary film about The Who, or The Kids Are All Right, a film about a lesbian couple and their children.


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This series provides examples of the following:

  • Actor Allusion: In "Low Expectations", Timmy is trying to get into The Partridge Family, and talks to a studio guard who claims Danny Bonaduce is mean to him. Bonaduce himself plays the guard.
  • Adult Fear: With the Vietnam War raging, Peggy is terrified at the prospect of her older sons being drafted and sent overseas to fight.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Larwence, who's in his early 20s begins to date Fiona, who reveals she's 47.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Frank seems to lack social skills, and doesn't seem to like being touched.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In an attempt to scare Eddie out of having sex with Wendi, Mike gives him a barely veiled talk lumping theft, murder, and the purchase of condoms togethernote .
    Mike: Stealing, murder, rubbers...all mortal sins. Equally condemned by me and by God.
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  • Big Brother Instinct: When Eddie's number is called in the draft lottery, Lawrence, who'd received a draft letter just moments before, declares that he's going to Vietnam. Despite vehemently opposing the war and scared to go, he's willing to put himself through it if it means that there's even a chance that it'll keep Eddie out of danger.
  • Black Sheep: Timmy is one due to his interests in musical theater.
    • Lawrence could also be considered one due to him quitting the seminary, and his liberal beliefs.
  • Butt-Monkey: Frank. And how.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Frank calls Peggy out on how she always depends on him, and how she never lets him do his own thing.
    • Wendi calls out Mike over his "Well Done, Son!" Guy routine and how Eddie is willing to die in Vietnam just to get his respect.
  • Colorblind Casting: Played for laughs when Timmy is cast as Joe in the school's production of "Show Boat".
  • Conscription: “Vietnam” is all about how the family deals with Lawrence and Eddie getting drafted.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Peggy sees Eddie as this.
  • The Cutie: Pat identifies himself as this.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Joey built the Cleary's backyard treehouse because it gives him the ideal vantage point to ogle the attractive nurse who lives next door.
    • Lawrence notes that Frank takes extra long in the shower whenever he sees Catwoman on TV. Frank insists he's just being "thorough".
    • Timmy is Mistaken for Masturbating because he left a glue stain on his bedsheet while making a secret puppet show. It gets worse when he starts gluing his puppets over a Sears catalog... over the women's coats section.
  • Day In The Lime Light: "Show Boat" is one for Frank.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Peggy can veer into the macabre when dealing with Wendi, such as quipping that Wendi is the type of daughter she wished she'd had if only those pregnancies had made it to term. She even believes Eddie absorbed a twin sister in the womb, and celebrates her "birthday" along with his.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A lot of humor is mined by showing how different parenting was in the 1970's.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: In one episode an old lady mistakes Lawrence for a girl.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: William has this reaction when Timmy accidentally lets it slip that he broke the lamp.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Mike is usually fine with Peggy's parenting style, he doesn't approve of her love list, because it was pinning the boys against one another and briefly put a strain on Timmy and William's relationship.
  • Free-Range Children: It's repeatedly pointed out that the Clearly children running around the neighborhood unsupervised was considered normal at the time.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: None of the Cleary boys particularly like being around Frank since he'll go whining to their mother at the slightest hint of trouble.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In an episode dealing with masturbation, Timmy is shown squirting copious amounts of Elmer's Glue and getting it all over the place.
    • While losing badly gambling, Wendi asks her opponent to kiss her because she likes to be kissed when she's getting— (scene changes)
  • Hidden Depths:
    • It's shown that Frank hates being so co-dependent with Peggy, and likes to help others, and work as a stagehand.
    • Despite their gruff exteriors, Peggy and Mike do care about their boys happiness and well-being.
    • Peggy is shown to be an excellent artist in "Nine Birthdays", making a set of well-crafted Richard Nixon candles that sell very well and is able to reproduce the set of a kid show for Timmy.
  • Jerkass: Wendi shows shades of being this, especially when Eddie is trying to being sweet to her, eventually leading to a short break up.
  • Important Haircut: Larwence gets a haircut thinking Peggy is angry with him.
  • Jerkass Realization: Wendi realizes that she's been a little too hard on Eddie, and realizes that it's okay if they're on different paths.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Frank is the family snitch but he also has a selfless side when it comes to helping older women around the neighborhood at no cost. Timmy and Joey, however, speculate that it's because Frank is stocking up on good deeds to get out of Purgatory faster.
  • Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Invoked. Mike is a working class machinist who's seen what scientists and engineers can do so he pushes his sons to pursue educations.
  • Hypocrite: Invoked. Mike points out to Peggy that it's impossible for them to have one blanket approach to all their sons and they have to address issues case by case, even if it means being hands on with one son while being hands off with another.
  • Like a Son to Me: Peggy sees Wendi as the daughter she never had.
  • Mama Bear: Peggy doesn't take too kindly to outsiders coming in and potentially corrupting her sons.
  • Mama's Boy: Frank is the most eager to please Peggy, going so far as to become the family snitch and rat out his brothers so that he can look good in comparison. In his words, he "worships the woman" which the others find abnormal.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Mike sometimes views Peggy as this.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: There are eight Cleary boys with barely enough space in the house to fit them all. In the first episode, the Narrator mentions another family having 12 children.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Timmy has trouble fitting in as he's too young to hang around his older brothers but too old to play with his younger brothers. He's also interested in pursuing a career in show business, something none of his other brothers can understand.
  • Missing the Good Stuff: Timmy is told that on an upcoming Bob Hope TV special, Barbara Eden wears a revealing costume that at one point shows "Everything" (though he's not sure what "everything" actually means at first). As the special airs, a fuse blows due to Peggy sabotaging the new microwave oven Mike brought home, and the power goes out just as Eden was supposedly about to expose herself.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In "Timmy's New Hobby", Lawrence is asked to talk to Timmy because Peggy thinks he's masturbating. In reality, Timmy is secretly doing a puppet show about his family and he got glue on the sheets. So when Lawrence and Timmy talk, Lawrence is taken aback when Timmy says he likes to do it with an audience, mainly on the children's section of the library.
  • Out of Focus: Lawrence was originally set up as an important supporting character who would have disagreements with his father. He was gradually pushed to the side in favor of goofier stories focusing on his younger brothers.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: Played with. In “Little Cyst”, Pat misshears Peggy, and tells the others that they’re going to have a little sister. All the boys except for Pat freak out at the thought of having a sister, and try to solve what's really going on.
  • Oven Logic: The microwave episode discussed their discovery of just how sensitive baked goods in particular are to that.
  • Parents as People: One subplot revolves around Lawrence coming to better understand his father and seeing that, despite his gruff exterior, Mike is a compassionate man who cares about the plight of others.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The Clearys eat popcorn while watching the televised Vietnam War draft.
  • Percussive Prevention: In “Vietnam”, Peggy hits Lawrence with her car to keep him out of the Vietnam draft.
  • Placebo Effect: In "Low Expectations", Peggy takes dog sedatives to calm her before her driving test. She feels guilty about it later, and that's when Mike informs her that he switched the sedatives for Tic Tacs.
  • Purity Personified: Peggy sees Eddie as being too nice and trusting of others and, thus, in danger of being taken advantage of. Mike also sees Eddie this way and doesn't want to see his son become cynical and hardened by war.
  • Raised Catholic: One of the show's central concepts as the eight Cleary boys are being raised in a Catholic household.
  • Reality Ensues: Lawrence receives a draft letter halfway through the first season, having lost his deferment when he dropped out of the seminary in the first episode.
  • Ruptured Appendix: In "The Love List", Timmy complains that his stomach hurts, which of course Mike and Peggy just brush it off as him wanting attention. When he faints, then they take him to the hospital only to find out he has appendicitis and has to get his appendix removed.
  • Secret Test of Character: Peggy spends a day testing Wendi to see if she has the strength of character to protect Eddie as well as the drive to push him to become better.
  • The '70s: The show opens in 1972, with occasional mentions of the then-unfolding Watergate scandal.
  • Sexy Priest: Lawrence turns many young women's heads when he comes home from seminary school wearing clerical clothing.
  • Skewed Priorities: Mike and Peggy are more concerned with property damage rather than their sons' physical well-being whenever the boys start playing in the house.
  • The Smart Guy: William is the most bookish of the Cleary boys and often the one to propose the most level-headed and well thought out solutions to the boys' problems.
  • Stress Vomit: In “Vietnam”, Mike acts with pride at two of his sons going out to serve their country. Then he runs to the bathroom to throw up.
  • The Teetotaler: Mike abstains from drinking due to a family history of alcoholism. Peggy, on the other hand, enjoys the occasional tipple.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: Parodied on "Timmy's New Hobby", where Timmy does a puppet show about his family. When he's caught, he points to a disclaimer he wrote on the side of the box he uses as a theater: "Any resemblance to actual persons is entirely coincidental and a sign of excellent puppetry."
  • Twerp Sweating: Gender flipped. Peggy intimidates and plays mind games with Wendi, Eddie's girlfriend, to see what sort of girl her son is dating.
  • Vague Age: Fiona. Lawrence assumes she's somewhere around his age. She then reveals she's 47.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: All the Cleary boys desperately want Mike's attention and approval.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Nine Birthdays" flashes back to the Cleary kids' birthdays from before the start of the show, showing how Eddie met Wendi, how Lawrence changed while at the seminary, and when Pat started wearing glasses.
  • Women Drivers: Mike makes jokes about Peggy's driving when she's trying to renew her license. Later, she blames him from making her too nervous to pass her driving test.
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