In Living Color

Common Sense Media says

Razor-sharp '90s humor has too much bite for kids.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's at least a nod to fairness and inclusivity, in that jokes target just about every social group, including homosexuals, Caucasians, African Americans, and the disabled. But truly positive messages are pretty hard to find.

Positive role models

On the plus side, the cast features a diverse roster of comedians. On the downside, the show's "role models" include a clown who's an ex-con, a senior citizen who does tricks with a dead dog, and a safety-obssessed fire marshall who always seems to blow things up.

Violence

Incidents are rare but tend toward the outrageous. One recurring character, for example, likes to hit others in the head with a sock full of rocks.

Sex

Pimps and prostitutes appear in certain sketches, and jokes are rife with sexual innuendo. Puns include the use of sexually suggestive terms like "lesbian," "transsexual," "whore," and "syphilis."

Language

Mild curse words like "damn" and "hell" are left in, while "ho" and "ass" are bleeped out. Terms that deal directly with race include "honky" and "negro."

Consumerism

Sketches occasionally parody recognizable products. Celebrities and materialism are routinely mocked.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are sometimes shown drinking and smoking. Drugs like crack and marijuana are mentioned occasionally for comic effect.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the humor in this groundbreaking sketch series is edgy and smart and was in many ways ahead of its time when it debuted in the early 1990s -- but today's teens (and younger children, especially) probably won't appreciate it from that perspective. They're more likely to latch on to the outrageousness of the show's characters and memorable catch phrases like "I'm gon' rock yo world," "Homey don't play that!" and "Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money!" Another downside? Kids could inadvertently add words like "honky" and "breasteses" to their budding vocabularies.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The brainchild of actor-producer-writer-director Keenen Ivory Wayans, IN LIVING COLOR is a 30-minute sketch comedy show that ran for five seasons on the Fox network from 1990-1994 and now runs regularly in syndication (and is available on DVD). Targeting primarily African-American audiences with a cutting-edge style that was ruder and cruder than its sole competitor at the time, Saturday Night Live, the series is perhaps best known for launching the careers of actor-comedians Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx and actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, who appeared as one of the show's "Fly Girl" dancers. In Living Color also showcased the talents of Wayans' many siblings, including Damon, Marlon, Shawn, and Kim. Skits like "Homey D. Clown," "Fire Marshall Bill," "The Homeboy Shopping Network," and "Men on Film" are just a few of the series' memorable contributions to pop culture.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

It's all really funny for grown-ups -- but the smartness of the show's humor is likely to be lost on most kids, and parents will be hard-pressed to find positive role models among the recurring characters. For example, at the end of a sketch about Jackson Five family patriarch Joe Jackson, who's hawking goods like face-whitening cream and chimpanzee clothes at Neverland Ranch while Michael is away in Europe, an announcer declares, "Joe Jackson: He beats prices just like he beats his kids." It's definitely not the kind of punchline you'd want kids repeating.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the fine line between being funny and being offensive. When it comes to making a joke, why are some stereotypes fair game while others are considered taboo? Does making light of racism and ethnic stereotypes make it easier for people to discuss their differences or merely reinforce longstanding prejudices? Would an all-black audience view this show any differently than a more general audience would? Why or why not? And how does the show compare to similar series like Saturday Night Live and MADtv?

TV details

Cast:Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, Keenen Ivory Wayans
Networks:BET, Syndicated
Genre:Variety Show
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD

This review of In Living Color was written by

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

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bySynchronicity April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

I love this show!

This show is hilarious. Yes there is some bad content like Homey The Clown being an ex-con and Men On Film's anti-gay humor. Also the Fly Girls have sexy outfits, and there are words like "honky" or "breasteses" that young kids shouldn't hear. However, this show has bite. I mean, it made Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez famous! And it's by the Wayans family, so it's funny!
Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Best Sketch Show Ever!

I Watch the MyNetworkTV Versions of These and They Are Really Funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Teen, 15 years old Written by96grlpowrCE June 24, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Homey don't play dat!

This is hilarious! My favourite skits on the show? "Homey the Clown" and "Fire Marshall Bill" (the latter played by Jim Carrey before he rose to fame). Of course, as goes for most comedies, this show isn't exactly family entertainment, but it's certainly funny and worth a watch!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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