Embarrassing stories of the insecure teenage years jump from the pages of Justin Halpern’s book “I Suck At Girls” and into the world of a 1990s comedy setting. Take a reminiscent step back into the days that Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch were on the radio and hairspray was an everyday necessity. The perfect ensemble cast plays the Dunlevys, each with their own set of hilarious struggles in finding their place as a part of society.
A New Spin on the Classic Coming of Age Tale
Jack is the strict father raising his teenage son and daughter in Southern California. His role as the father goes through a major change as he must take on full-time responsibility when his wife returns to law school. Tough love is an understatement when it comes to this strict, ex-military dad. Although his methods are unorthodox and unpredictable, he finds a way to share his wisdom with the kids.
The Quirky Dunlevy Family
The wife, Joanne, is as adorable as she is awkward. Her decision to return to law school takes her out of the role of full-time mom to make room for Jack to assume a major share of the parental responsibilities. Frankie is a teenage boy entering high school that seems to have a special talent for getting involved in the most embarrassing situations. Not only is he going through a rough transition into manhood, his well-intentioned father is not making things any easier. On the other side of the puberty spectrum is his beautiful, popular older sister Rachel who is also in high school. Jack struggles to understand his only daughter, and her rebellious nature proves to be quite a handful for him to deal with.
There is a Little Bit of Frankie in Everyone
As much as you hate to admit it, entering high school was one of the unavoidably awkward times in life when you got to experience all new situations. Frankie is faced with his first real crush and dealing with insecurity as the threat of rejection looms before asking her to the homecoming dance. Later on, he endures the mortifying reality that comes with introducing your significant other to your embarrassing parents. There are situations in the lives of both kids and their friends that leave you cringing in horror, especially when they must ultimately face the disciplinarian, Jack.
Comedy Veterans Leading a Great Cast
Chris Meloni and Rachel Harris play the Dunlevy parents and are no strangers to the comedy scene. Their timing and delivery are spot-on, but that is not to discredit the other actors featured on Surviving Jack. Connor Buckley plays the role of the witty, awkward teenage boy perfectly and in such a way that the audience can really relate to his struggles. You want to laugh at him and cannot help but feel a great deal of sympathy for the situations he gets into. Meloni’s Jack is incredibly funny as he is at times an over-the-top disciplinarian. Perhaps the most surprising stars in the Surviving Jack cast are the young Kevin Hernandez and Tyler Foden who both play close friends of Frankie. They are quickly considered a part of the family as they must feel the wrath of Jack anytime they happen to slip up. Claudia Lee, who plays Rachel, portrays the quintessential teen princess who thinks she has the world figured out and does just about anything to get her way. As a whole, each Dunlevy and their friends make up a talented comedic cast able to play off of one another and make it look easy.
Perceptions of the General Audience
Although the title suggests that Jack is a simple guy that is hard on his kids, Meloni brings a sense of vulnerability as he selflessly devotes himself to raising them strong. He lays down the law when he catches Frankie drinking with his friends, helps out when he becomes interested in playing baseball and supports Rachel when she joins the wrestling team. Throughout the series, it becomes more obvious that Jack is not the stern bully he wants his kids to view him as. When Harris gets her time to shine, she appeals to every mom watching her children grow up too fast. That is the great thing about the cast, they seem like real people that could easily be someone you know personally. If you happened to miss it in the original airing, you can watch Surviving Jack online to catch up on the laughs.
The Early Conclusion of Surviving Jack Despite Great Reviews
Audiences and critics were pleasantly surprised by how funny and relatable Surviving Jack is to real-life experiences. The entire cast stands out both individually and as a group without anyone being perceived as boring to watch. Fox had high hopes with the original schedule of a full 13-episode season; however, it was eventually cut to feature only eight. At the conclusion of the first season, the show was cancelled from production. Fortunately, you can still watch Surviving Jack online in its entirety.