History of Swear Words

TV review by
Marina Gordon, Common Sense Media
History of Swear Words TV Poster Image
Six oft-taboo profanities take center stage in short series.

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This show does give examples of how cursing relieves stress, makes us more tolerant to pain, and other benefits, but few parents would be comfortable with their children swearing as frequently as its hosts and guests.

Positive Role Models

Putting aside the specific words it covers, this show encourages deep dives into history, art, and psychology, plus it urges viewers to consider why some words are offensive, why they have power, and other lessons that could be applied more broadly.

Violence
Sex

In the first episode, "F--k," there's discussion of sex as relates to the word, but no graphic imagery. In the "D--k" episode we see drawn penises, sculpted penises, and one full-frontal penis in a movie. The "P---y" episode features only stylized versions of the female genitalia.

Language

The episode titles tell you all you need to know: "F--k," "S--t," "Bitch," "D--k," "P---y," "Damn." Expect dozens, perhaps hundreds, of utterances of each word in its episode.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that History of Swear Words delivers exactly on its title, with self-explanatory episodes titled "F--k," "S--t," "Bitch," "D--k," "P---y," and "Damn." Expect dozens, perhaps hundreds, of utterances of each word in its episode. We don't see any sex, but the "D--k" episode features many depictions of penises and a live one (prosthetic?) that appeared in a movie. Nicolas Cage, an actor known for his colorful language in many action movies, hosts the show in a faux-professorial manner, intercut with comments from real academics and other experts who ground the series in research and history.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Kid, 10 years old March 12, 2021

Lots of cussing

Has nudity on statues and toooooonnnnns of swearing but that is pretty much it
Teen, 13 years old Written bysincerelymait January 8, 2021

What's the story?

In THE HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS, Nicolas Cage, whom many viewers may assume is the king of the curse word (spoiler: he's not), presides over a lightly amusing and predictably profane exploration of six expletives, each with its own 20-minute episode. Seated in a presumably green-screened library/study, Cage uses his most professorial manner to deliver some history and wax poetic on each word (and, of course, utter it repeatedly with relish). An array of opinionated comedians and actors (Sarah Silverman, Nikki Glaser, Joel Kim Booster, Zainab Johnson, Nick Offerman, and others) and linguistic and pop culture experts share the origins and experiences of each term, interspersed with TV and movie clips and original graphics and animations.

Is it any good?

Dip into any five minutes of this six-episode series about six well-loved and oft-forbidden curse words and you'll know exactly what to expect of the other 115 minutes. Nicolas Cage is a surprising host for this slight History of Swear Words; perhaps the lure was zestily uttering the words that double as episode titles: "F--k," "S--t," "Bitch," "D--k," "P---y," and "Damn." Some popular comedians well-known for their colorful language (e.g., Sarah Silverman, Nikki Glaser, Zainab Johnson) share their observations on the words, but aren't laugh-out-loud funny nor particularly insightful. Better context and lessons come from lexicographer Kory Stamper, real-life professors (as opposed to Cage's professor shtick), and other wordsmiths. Most high schoolers will have heard all these words, in all their variations, well before watching this show. Who'll be offended? Probably anyone named Dick.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How does the use of swear words affect your perception of a character in TV shows or movies?

  • What do you think about the ratings put on TV shows and movies that feature swear words? Are they too high, or too low? Were you introduced to swear words in media?

  • What insights does this show offer about the history of language and linguistics? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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