A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kal Penn Approves This Message is a talk show that aims to interest teenagers in civic engagement by explaining issues in an upbeat, non-partisan way. Penn's jokes include moderate language like "bullsh--t," as well as bleeped out more-intense curse words (where it's easy to guess what's being bleeped.) There are jokes that feature a moderate amount of sexual innuendo, and some brief mentions of marijuana.
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What's the story?
In KAL PENN APPROVES THIS MESSAGE, Harold and Kumar star turned Obama administration advisor Kal Penn wants to empower young people to become politically active. In a talk-show format, he explores one issue like "voting" or "education" per episode. The format is akin to The Daily Show (or at least the Covid-19 remote-produced version), but there are a few notable differences in content. Penn's explanations of issues are more entry-level for teenagers, his attitude is less snarky, and he frames each issue in a non-partisan way. He also provides concrete examples of ways young people can take action on the issue, and directs viewers to websites where they can learn more or get involved.
Is it any good?
As Penn himself references in the first episode, it's a little odd that a show aimed at young people is hosted by a 43-year-old. Penn's background of being both a comedian and a civil servant is perfect for a show like this in theory, but the conceit would have been more powerful if hosted by an actual young person. While overall enjoyable, the comedic bits will likely fall a bit flat for many teenagers. That said, he does a good job of explaining issues in a simple way that won't insult teens' intelligence.
Politically-savvy teens will likely not learn a ton of new stuff from Penn, but Kal Penn Approves This Message does have the potential to be a good introduction to teens just starting to tune into the issues. At a time when the country could not be more divided, it's refreshing that Penn's message is simply the importance of being informed and taking action, rather than trying to convince viewers to agree with his side of the issue.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about watching a show like Kal Penn Approves This Message inspires you to learn more or get more involved in an issue. How do you find resources?
What issue are you most passionate about? Why is it important to you? What's something you can do about it?
Do you think celebrities are influential in political and social matters? Is this a good or bad thing? Why?
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