Join or Die with Craig Ferguson

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Join or Die with Craig Ferguson TV Poster Image
Celeb guests debate history, swear a lot on funny talk show.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Conversations about things, people, and places in history underline the importance of learning history and putting it in context. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

This is not a show on which viewers get to know participants on a personal level, but host Ferguson is respectful to his guests and listens to their points of view; any mockery is gentle. 

Violence

Discussions vary in their violent tone, but some segments, such as those discussing history's greatest tyrants, may be scary to kids.

Sex

Occasional jokes with a sexual tinge: "You guys are pussies!" (to two men).

Language

Occasional cursing: "damn," "hell," bleeped "f--k." 

Consumerism

Mention of a wide range of celebrities and historical figures: Jeff Bridges, the Kardashians, Hitler. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional jokes about drinking and drugs. Host Ferguson has a colorful drug history he may refer to. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Join or Die with Craig Ferguson is a talk show on which the host and three guests debate historical events or personalities. There are occasional off-color jokes, and Ferguson refers to his own history with drugs and sex. Cursing includes "hell" and "damn," while "f--k" is bleeped. Discussion can veer toward the violent and morbid, too, particularly during discussions of war or tyrants. The talk is too mature for young viewers, but teens with an interest in history will learn new things by watching.

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What's the story?

"Join or die" was Benjamin Franklin's 1754 rallying cry to the divided colonists and the tattoo Craig Ferguson got on his arm after becoming an American citizen. The U.S. newbie exercises his right to speech on his talk show, JOIN OR DIE WITH CRAIG FERGUSON, a half-hour talk show on which the host and three guests culled from entertainment, academia, and business debate various historical people and places to decide which is best (or worst). What was history's worst advice? Who was the cruelest tyrant? Most architecturally significant man-made structure? You may not agree with the decision Craig and company come down to, but it's fun watching them hash it out. 

Is it any good?

Lively, clever, and accessible, this talk show is a good whole-family viewing choice for those with teens, particularly ones who love to argue. Who's to say what's history's most influential drug, greatest invention, or craziest cult? The show starts with an arbitrary list that gets narrowed down as guests decide which of the items are duds. It's pretty fun stuff and should produce some lively dinner table debates after watching. Ferguson, or his talent booker, also has a keen eye for interesting guests, often bringing in celebs you haven't seen in a while and are glad to hear from: Michael Ian Black, Courteney Cox, and Jack Black. It's not must-see TV, but you'll be happy enough to consume a few episodes at a time with the kids. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Why do TV shows debate what's best or most important? Who decides what's important? How can one person decide for someone else what's superior or most important? 

  • Why do talk show hosts, comedians, and others TV personalities curse during their conversations and routines to be humorous? What is the purpose of it? Can people be funny without using strong language?

  • Why does Ferguson invite celebrities onto the show rather than ordinary people? Is there something special or more interesting about someone's opinion because you've heard of that person? 

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