A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this show is extremely popular among teens in the United States and the United Kingdom (even more so since Borat was a big hit), it absolutely earns its TV-MA rating. Every episode is chock full of explicit language and contains occasional racist comments, strong sexual references, and brief moments of nudity. Star Sacha Baron Cohen is an expert at turning excruciating moments into laugh-out-loud humor, but some of the show's social commentary about culture and politics may be too subtle for most kids (and even plenty of adults) to catch.
What's the story?
Cult phenomenon DA ALI G SHOW stars popular British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Alistair Graham -- better known as West London hip hop "journalist" Ali G -- as he attempts to learn about America from unsuspecting Americans. The series combines reality with the absurd as Ali G, along with Baron Cohen's other two colorful characters -- Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat Sadgdiyev and gay Austrian fashionista Bruno -- conduct interviews with various political and social luminaries, most of whom are unaware that they're actually participating in a comedy show. The trio's "victims" have included the likes of Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan, Sam Donaldson, James Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio), and stylist Jonathan Antin. Other segments include experts discussing a variety of topics on Ali G's mock talk show and Ali G, Borat, and Bruno traveling around the country interacting with regular Americans. Watching unsuspecting people try to figure out whether these characters are serious or not is the source of a lot of the show's humor.
Is it any good?
While Da Ali G Show has plenty of crude humor, explicit language, sexual references, and brief nudity, the truth is that in many ways it's very clever. The show's unique brand of social commentary is aimed at both teens and adults and puts America's overall sense of humor to the test.
The best part of the show is the talented, Andy Kaufman-like star, who never breaks character while engaging in real-life dialogue about current events. Baron Cohen's interviews might seem nonsensical at first (and, let's face it, some of them are flat-out offensive), but dig a little deeper and you'll realize that they're full of smart word play and sly observations that are not only funny, but also sometimes uncomfortably honest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways in which television can serve as a source of social commentary on contemporary issues. Families can also talk about the ethics of "mock" or "spoof" interviews. Is it ethical to pose as a real journalist when you're not, even if it's meant to be funny? What point is the show trying to make? Does the satire help or simply entertain? How can you tell the difference?