Tweens Can't Get Enough Slapstick

Nickelodeon’s newest live-action sitcom, Big Time Rush, has only been on the air for a few weeks, but it has already won its share of tween fans. Like many other sitcoms aimed at that 8- to 13-year-old demographic, the show revolves around musical performers -- this time a quartet of boy-banders being groomed for  superstardom at a sort of fame factory (yet, strangely, an entire episode can go by without any music). Big Time Rush is also loaded with over-the-top acting, hyper-kinetic slapstick, lots of loud, in-your-face jokes. It seems as though tweens can’t get enough broad farce.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but if we’re feeding our middle-schoolers on a steady diet of pratfalls, toilet jokes and food fights, will we end up with an entire generation that is unable to appreciate subtlety? When these kids are the adults making movies, will we ever have another intellectually challenging, thought-provoking Up In the Air? Or will cinema be nothing but Paul Blart: Mall Cop? Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’d still like to see a tween comedy where fewer of the laughs are dependent on mugging for the camera.

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