Parents' Guide to

American Gladiators

By Will Wade, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Rough-and-tumble show is guilty pleasure at best.

TV NBC Game Shows 1989
American Gladiators Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Though the contestants are technically competing against each other, they're rarely matched against one another in the various events, which have friendly names like "joust," "hit and run," "gauntlet," and "assault." Instead, they must face off against the gladiators in these challenges, which are heavy on the wrestling, tackling, and mock combat. The contestants are all in great shape, and some of them -- including a professional skateboarder and a New York fire fighter -- are certainly above-average specimens, but most of them are just average folks (including a toilet paper sales rep, a bartender, and an aviation engineer). They're clearly outclassed by the gladiators, whose roster includes a four-time Mr. Universe, a 6'8" former European professional basketball player, and a veteran kickboxer.

There's plenty of action, and a fair bit of trash talking between the contestants and gladiators, some of which seems to straddle the line between fun competition and real hostility. The hosts sometimes egg them on with their pre- and post-event interviews, and the studio audience amps up the aggression, cheering when the gladiators take someone down and jeering the pummeled contestants. All of the events are grueling, and several can be fun to watch, but this show certainly doesn't rate very highly on the cultural scale. Watching these people bash each other for our pleasure is basic, escapist entertainment -- a classic guilty pleasure.

TV Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate