John Safran vs. God
By Sierra Filucci,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Odd mix of satire and skits for sturdy souls only.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show satirizes religion using tactics that some viewers might find offensive -- like tricking a sheikh into issuing a fatwa.
Violence & Scariness
Some talk of war, death, etc., but no violent images shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Occasional discussion of sexual arousal and masturbation.
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Uncensored and strong: from "hell" to "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In one episode the host takes a hallucinogenic drug. While he speaks optimistically about the experience, the actual footage wouldn't inspire others to try it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this confrontational reality/satire series tackles religion, unapologetically making fun of its extremes (Scientology, voodoo, etc.). The irreverent approach could offend some viewers. There's also strong language (including "f--k") and uncensored discussion of sexual issues -- like aroused male parts -- as well as drug use (in one episode the host takes peyote and films the entire experience, including his prolonged vomiting).
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What's the Story?
In JOHN SAFRAN VS. GOD, audacious Australian media personality John Safran -- who's done a variety of TV projects that typically include pranks and satire -- makes use of his trademark outrageousness to poke fun at the controversial subject of religion. In one episode, for example, Safran sets off to find out how difficult it is to get a fatwa placed on someone. After a long, strange explanation of why he chose the fatwa's target (fellow Aussie TV personality Rove McManus), Safran travels to the UK in search of a controversial Muslim leader who is known to issue the religious decrees easily. During the meeting -- which recalls the uncomfortable humor of Da Ali G Show -- Safran shows the sheikh a fake copy of Satanic Verses II supposedly written by McManus, as well as other obviously false but highly blasphemous materials. In other episodes the confrontational host takes peyote in Arizona and gets covered in chicken blood in Haiti.
Is It Any Good?
The show's mixture of reality/documentary footage and satirical skits make it an original. Many viewers might not know what to make of it, but it has a certain charm (in the vein of low-budget community television). People who don't like humor based on religion will probably want to steer clear, for Safran definitely pokes fun at issues that many people take very seriously. But at least he's an equal-opportunity satirist, even calling out atheists on their inability to articulate the Big Bang theory.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the media's relationship with religion. How is religion usually portrayed in movies and TV shows? Why do you think that is? Do you tend to agree or disagree with that depiction? Families can also discuss their own beliefs. What religion, if any, does your family practice? Do you feel like you can make fun of your religion, or is it too sacred? How do you feel when people make fun of religion -- yours or someone else's? How do you feel about what John Safran does in this show?
- Premiere date: August 30, 2004
- Cast: John Safran
- Network: Sundance Channel
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 24, 2022
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