If there was any A-list superstar you could imagine doing a reality show, Sylvester Stallone probably wouldn’t immediately spring to mind. It’s not like he doesn’t lead a fascinating life, or that some of his family wouldn’t be fodder for a great reality show — his brother Frank and his late mother Jackie both would have been stellar reality stars. But a show where Sly hangs out at home with his wife and kids? We definitely wouldn’t have ever seen that coming. But that’s precisely what we get with a new series on Paramount+.
THE FAMILY STALLONE: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: Oklahoma City. Sylvester Stallone arrives on the set of Tulsa King.
The Gist: It’s Sly’s last day filming the series, and for the first time in six months, he’s going back to his California home to spend time with his wife Jennifer and daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet. Why is Sly doing a reality show? Well, he’s been on the road for what he estimates is about 60% of his life, and he saw his daughters growing up. “Wouldn’t it be great to spend some serious time with them, where they couldn’t escape, where they had to be with me?” he chuckles.
As Sly gets loving welcomes from Jennifer and his daughters we hear from all of them; we know Jennifer Flavin Stallone somewhat, as the two of them have been together for 35 years and married for 26 (they almost divorced last year, but that’s never mentioned in the first two episodes). Their daughters are definitely self-assured, strong women who love Sly to pieces but also love to take him down a few notches. They all describe having dates over the house with their father cinematically looming over the boys that come over, and they all metaphorically roll their eyes.
There’s a scene where Sly is hanging out in front of a pizzeria with his brother Frank and Rocky IV costar Dolph Lundgren, and Al Pacino ambles by. Not many people can get Al Pacino to appear on a reality show, but Sly can; Sly vows that they’ll do a project together, despite the fact that Sly is 76 and Al is 82.
At the same time, the women in Sly’s life are baking a cake for his birthday dinner. Sophia decides to play a prank on her dad and puts baby decorations on the top of the cake to indicate that she’s pregnant. When he sees the cake, he reels like he’s been punched by Apollo Creed.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The Family Stallone is aiming straight for the Kardashian segment of the reality TV universe.
Our Take: Besides the fact that Sly wants to spend more time with his family, we’re still scratching our heads about why he’d want to do this show. Couldn’t he spend time with Jennifer and his daughters without the cameras around? Anyway, that’s just our roundabout way of saying that The Family Stallone is a perfectly harmless and entertaining reality series, to which Sly brings some incredible star power, but we just have no idea why it exists.
Why we mention the Kardashians is that the model that the family established during the heyday of their original reality series is in place here: A strong matriarch, daughters that all have their own points of view and aren’t afraid to express them, and a well-known father who is there to turn his image inside out, becoming the affable guy who has little control at home, no matter how hard he tries to be in charge.
Sly actually plays that role pretty well, but he’s more in his element when he’s around his brother and his Hollywood buddies. Come on, which reality show would you want to watch more: The Stallone family talking about the girls’ relationships or Sly shooting the shit with Al Pacino?
The second episode features Sophia lamenting over a nascent relationship with some dude on the east coast, getting advice from both her parents, including a stint with Sly on a shooting range. But it also features Sophia and Sistine visiting their uncle Frank’s house for the first time in what they say is about a decade, and they’re both amazed and horrified at the memorabilia related to their father that Frank has on display.
Let’s ask this question again: Which reality show would you like to see? Do you want to see Sophia Stallone trying to “get back out there” at a bar after breaking up with this long-distance relationship or something about the life of Frank Stallone? Or maybe the fact that Sly’s youngest three children barely know their uncle, despite the fact that he lives nearby? While we may get elements of the latter two choices, we’re pretty sure the series is going to be more of the first choice, and that makes for much less of a compelling watch.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: Scenes from the first season of The Family Stallone.
Most Pilot-y Line: Sophia and Sistine look for some cigars for Sly’s birthday, and they sit down and light up a couple of them. Sistine proposes a new podcast: Sisters With Stogies. Hm… will watching them smoke cigars make the podcast any more interesting?
Our Call: STREAM IT, because The Family Stallone is mainly a harmless reality distraction. But it’s not going to give much insight into Sly’s life with his family. So if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re going to be disappointed.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.