By Martin Brown,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Iconic 1990s show features mild sex, violence.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages about friendship, empathy, and accountability.
Positive Role Models
Characters show loyalty, compassion, ingenuity, and self-reflection.
Some aspects may come off a little dated, but Martin was a groundbreaking show when it aired in 1992, featuring a predominantly Black cast in a wide range of non-stereotypical roles with humor aimed directly at a Black audience.
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Violence & Scariness
Jokes about fist fights and some small violent acts played for laughs (e.g., one character trips another).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sexually suggestive dialogue and movement.
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Mild profanity is used throughout: "jackass," "damn," "butt," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Product placement (from the 1990s) is occasionally featured.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are seen drinking alcohol, sometimes excessively. Jokes about drug use are occasionally made.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Martin is a sitcom from the 1990s starring Martin Lawrence. The set-up is familiar (Lawrence mostly hangs out in his apartment with his best friends), but in addition to the central role, Lawrence also plays a dozen or so other characters over the course of the series. The show debuted at a time when networks, specifically Fox, heavily invested in shows marketed toward Black audiences. It features a predominantly Black cast in a wide range of non-stereotypical roles, and even Lawrence's sketch-comedy-style supporting characters represented points-of-view that felt unique to television (and hold up surprisingly well 30 years later).
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
Martin stars comedian Martin Lawrence as boisterous radio personality Martin Payne, who spends most of his free time with his girlfriend, Gina (Tisha Campbell), and best friends Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II) and Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford). Driven by pride and aspiring to be famous, Martin's plans and schemes often go sideways, dragging Gina and his crew into trouble with him.
Is It Any Good?
The series itself was iconic in its own time, and inspired nearly as many catchphrases as, say, Seinfeld or Friends. But Martin's legacy is marred by a lawsuit in which Lawrence's co-star Tisha Campbell accused him of sexual harassment. Ahead of a 2022 reunion, Campbell said the two "worked really hard to forgive and reconnect." Thirty years after the show aired, its groundbreaking aspects mostly hold up, and both the predominantly Black cast and the broad comedic chops Lawrence uses when playing a host of supporting characters show a side of American culture that (still) doesn't typically have a place on TV.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Martin's format. What is unique about the series? Are there any shows like it currently on TV?
How do the supporting characters that Lawrence plays hold up today? Is the comedy still funny? Is the audience expected to be laughing at or with the characters?
What are some notable ways that Martin represents Black culture? How does the series avoid or subvert Black stereotypes? How has the audience's perspective changed since the show originally aired?
- Premiere date: August 27, 1992
- Cast: Carl Anthony Payne II
- Network: Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 25, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Watch
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