A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that many of the series' sketches explore sexual themes, include explicit terms, and imply drug use and excessive alcohol consumption. American institutions, from the presidency to Oprah, are all fair game for spoofs and satires, some of which may not make a lot of sense to younger viewers.
What's the story?
MADTV, which airs new episodes on Fox on Saturday nights and is syndicated as part of Comedy Central's late-night rotation, takes a page from Saturday Night Live and In Living Color and entertains audiences with sketches that skewer celebrities, film, music, politics, and other pop culture fixtures. Over the years, the series has produced scores of offbeat characters, including Stuart (Michael McDonald), a dim-witted man-boy who lives with his crazy mother, and Jaq the UBS Guy (Phil LaMarr), an annoying, hyperactive mailman. It has also featured scores of guest stars, from Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and Jackie Chan to Queen Latifah, Drew Barrymore, and Green Day.
Is it any good?
Like its namesake magazine, MADtv purposely pushes the limits of decency to the breaking point. It's more tasteless and less wry than SNL. In one episode, for example, a slimy male character says, "Give me a 68. That's where you give me a BJ and I owe you one." Another sketch portrays a buxom blonde doctor unable to carry on an intelligent conversation with her patient.
Still, there are moments of brilliance. In a scene in which a woman driving an SUV is pulled over for speeding, when asked the make of her car, she replies, "2003 Earth Destroyer."Since each episode's content is unpredictable and almost certainly in questionable taste, only mature teens should tune in.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's brand of humor. Why is satire funny? What makes it work, and when does it fail or fall flat? How do you know when a joke's gone too far? Also, how do you think the writers come up with their ideas? What would you pick as a topic if you were coming up with a sketch for the show?