Michael & Michael Have Issues

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Michael & Michael Have Issues TV Poster Image
Comedy duo's many "issues" are adult-oriented.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No clearly positive messages; in fact, the series' central friendship is based on bickering and conflict rather than support.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Neither character could serve as a positive role model for kids -- or anyone else. They're immature, passive agressive, and manipulative, and they both engage in negative behavior like lying, fighting, and flat-out illegal activities ... but all of their foibles are meant to be funny.

Violence

Some physical violence (including fistfights, implied muggings, etc.) and shouting matches, which are played up for comedic effect.

Sex

The word "sex" is used quite a bit, and characters make crude references to things like "getting laid," being "engorged," and "doodling" between their legs. There's also a joke about a high school-aged boy who meets a 45-year-old man on the Internet in a chat room for teens.

Language

Audible words include "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "butt," "balls," "pubes," and "vagina." "S--t" and "f--k" are bleeped (though characters essentially say the latter out loud several times during a skit making light of a British accent), but it's generally clear what's being said. In one sketch, the guys invent a new curse word, "mother f---ing n----r c--t Nazi unicorn," but the second, third, and fourth words are bleeped.

Consumerism

The Michaels sometimes appear as themselves/their characters in ad spots for sponsors' products (Klondike Bars, for example) right after the show breaks for commercial or before it comes back.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some episodes deal with drugs and alcohol. One plot finds the Michaels trying to buy pot for their boss; one fails and lands in jail, while the other succeeds and smokes it himself. They also make ironic statements like "Drugs are really bad for you. Unless you're bored. Or you want to feel good." References to steroids.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, while this deadpan comedy is littered with content red flags, it's also not intended for younger viewers. For example, while adults and older teens will recognize the irony in a loaded statement like "College isn't getting any cheaper, but steroids are -- espeically south of the border," younger teens and tweens probably won't. In addition to jokes about sex and illegal drugs, expect to hear some pretty salty language, although the strongest words are bleeped.

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What's the story?

In MICHAEL & MICHAEL HAVE ISSUES, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter star as themselves -- or at least exaggerated versions of themselves who are starring in their own variety show. The format is part sitcom and part sketch comedy, and episodes typically find the pair butting heads at work ... or in Black's front yard ... or in a public park. In short, most of the "issues" they have are with each other.

Is it any good?

If you know and love Black and Showalter from their other projects -- including Comedy Central's Stella or the summer camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer -- you're already tuned in to their antics and will appreciate what they're trying to do here with their deadpan delivery and irony so thick you could spread it. But if you've never heard of them before and prefer your comedy a bit broader, you'll likely feel their jokes fall flat.

Even diehard fans will be a little disappointed with the show's storylines, which don't yield as many laugh-out-loud moments as you'd expect from these two. Black, at least, was much funnier on VH1's I Love the... series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Do you think the series exaggerates what happens behind the scenes of a TV show? Do you think the Michaels are markedly different than the "characters" they play here?

  • How does the show portray topics like drinking/drugs and sex? Does making light of them make them any less serious?

  • How is the comedy style of this show different than, say, a more traditional sitcom like How I Met Your Mother?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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