Austin City Limits

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Austin City Limits TV Poster Image
Texas-inspired concert show has something for everyone.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series highlights the diverse nature of American music, as well as the audiences who listen to it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The performers are from all walks of life and represent various American musical styles and cultures.


Some lyrics may include some sexual innuendo/references, but most will likely go over younger viewers' head.


Words like "hell" are occasionally audible, while occasional curses like "s--t" and "goddamn" are fully bleeped.


Like most PBS programs, show sponsors and underwriters are highlighted before the show begins.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some lyrics include references to drugs and alcohol. During his performance, Keith Urban briefly talked about his recovery from addiction in between songs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this long-running music concert series -- which features taped musical performances from a wide variety of artists -- is relatively mild,  though there are some occasional curse words (but they're fully that are fully bleeped). Some of the lyrics also mention/touch on mature content, including sex and addiction, but the amount of that kind of content varies widely depending on who's performing.

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What's the story?

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS -- America’s longest-running concert music TV program -- offers viewers the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of performances from some of today’s most talented musicians. The series, which originated in 1976 to showcase original Texas music, now features a wide range of concerts from performers like R&B singer John Legend and Keith Urban to bands like Coldplay and The Foo Fighters. It also includes occasional performances from international acts. The acts are taped live on the University of Texas at Austin campus.

Is it any good?

The series, which has become a staple of PBS programming and the inspiration for a major Austin music festival, owes its longevity to its willingness to move beyond the local Texas music scene and embrace the diverse sounds of American root music. The wide array of music styles showcased here --  including alternative country, rock and roll, jazz, swing, and even Tejano music -- also reflects the multicultural nature of American music and the audiences who are listening to it.

The show is kid- and family-friendly overall, but you will hear the occasional swear word (which is usually bleeped) and some adult-oriented lyrics. But the bottom line is that it’s a show that offers music fans of all ages a chance to see some of their favorite artists, as well as some new and innovative musical talent.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about music. What's your favorite kind of music? What exactly is "American root music"?

  • How does watching a live musical performance differ from watching one on television? Which do you like better?

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 3, 1976
  • Network: PBS
  • Genre: Variety Show
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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