'The Family Stallone' (Art Streiber/Paramount+)

'The Family Stallone' Review: Sylvester Stallone Is at the Mercy of His Daughters in Uncanny New Reality Series

In the premiere episode of The Family Stallone, Sylvester Stallone's new reality TV show for Paramount+, the legendary actor's daughter recalls the time her first kiss was sabotaged—intentionally or not—by her famous father's looming presence. He appeared on the balcony, imposing and backlit like a Rambo film poster, just as the two teenagers leaned in. He's "so cinematic," she says, even in the humdrum of everyday life. 

She's right: Seeing Sly up-close-and-personal in The Family Stallone is like seeing a movie character walking around in real life — which is to say, it doesn't feel all that personal at all. At 76 years old, Stallone fits the older, wiser action star archetype to a T: He's gracious, funny and family-oriented. He's used multiple lifetimes' worth of experience to become the best possible version of that semi-retired, but always-relevant legend. In short, Sylvester Stallone is everything you'd want your on-screen hero to be. Problem is, reality TV isn't cinema. Its character arcs are messier, and its plot lines more crossed. While The Family Stallone approximates the tried-and-true allure of a reality family drama in its first two episodes, it's too early to tell whether the series will reach that parasocial level of must-see TV. 

Sylvester Stallone and his wife, Jennifer Flavin, at home in Los Angeles. (Art Streiber/Paramount+)

The show centers not so much on Sly himself, but on his girls. There's his wife of 25 years, Jennifer Flavin Stallone. She's loving, glamorous in a low-key way, and prone to mildly funny cake-baking mishaps. Their eldest daughter, Sophia, 26, is understandably risk-averse. Being the daughter of one of the world's most famous faces will do that to you. "Her ability to control her emotions is quite extraordinary," Sly says in his interview seat, sounding charmingly like a military strategist. Then there's 24-year-old Sistine and 20-year-old Scarlet, the college-bound baby of the family who acted alongside her father in a few episodes of the Taylor Sheridan-created 2022 series Tulsa King — which marked Stallone's first-ever project on the small screen. 

When they're not recording their podcast, Unwaxed (a girly, quirky chat show billed as "cheaper than a therapist, less judgmental than your best friend"), the Stallone sisters are pranking and (lovingly) pestering their father. They're quick to embrace him when he returns from a lengthy film shoot, and equally as anxious to get him to at least speak to their boyfriends. The show relies on the trope of the macho man at the mercy of his vibrant, dangerously beautiful and very much eligible daughters. In a business sense, The Family Stallone is a platform for the girls, and Sly's presence is an insurance policy for the venture.

But what a presence it is. He swaggers across the set of Tulsa King after filming has wrapped, still wearing his mafioso suit and rings, excited to get home and enjoy a few pints of ice cream with his wife after a punishing six-month shoot. He puffs on a cigar on the patio, cackling dismissively when the girls urge him to go golfing with their boyfriends. While enjoying a digestif (with ice, otherwise he'll snooze) with Jennifer in their picture-perfect barn-slash-den, he puts it all in perspective: "The average life expectancy is around 72. That comes out to 3,900 weekends. That's it, that's all you got." 

L-R: Scarlet, Sistine and Sophia Stallone at home in Los Angeles. (Art Streiber/Paramount+)

The irony of Stallone's magnitude pictured on the smallness of reality TV is entertaining, and not exactly off-brand. After all, he's an action star. Popcorn-movie icons build careers on elevating so-called low-brow fare. But still, hearing him describe the show as "my behind-the-scenes" and "my home movies" is jarring. Nowhere is this more apparent than when Al Pacino pops up in the first episode to meet Sly for an outdoor pizza date, quickly warming up to the cameras. They joke about playing mobsters and dying their hair. When Stallone explains that he's doing a reality show in order to be with his family ("Wouldn't it be great to just spend some serious time with them where they couldn't escape, where they had to be with me?"), Pacino comes back with, "Well, everything happens if you stay alive."

It's the kind of big, broad statement that just doesn't occur on reality TV, the home of not rolling with the punches. The Family Stallone certainly won't be the new Kardashians. It won't light the internet on fire; Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet won't cause controversy. But it could serve as an edifying look into one man's outsized impact on the lives of three young women who adore him — that is, if we can get past the boyfriend drama.

The first two episodes of The Family Stallone are now streaming on Paramount+.

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