Monty Python's Flying Circus
By Ellen Dendy,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Madcap, classic sketch comedy with adult themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Skits poke fun at the mentally and physically challenged and include stereotypical portrayals based on race, ethnicity, and sexuality and all sorts of deviant characters (violent criminals, prostitutes, flashers, etc.) -- but it's all in the name of comedy.
Violence & Scariness
Some sketches include violence, but always in the form of over-the-top physical comedy. Exaggerated acts of violence include cartoon-like explosions, bodies falling from windows, and beatings (dowdy matrons pummel victims with heavy-duty pocketbooks, for example).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sketches include sexual themes/innuendo ("wink, wink, nudge, nudge"). Occasional toplessness and bare bums (plus the recurring "nude organist" character). Some of Terry Gilliam's artsy, surreal animations include nudity as well.
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Fairly mild, and mostly British: "Bloody," "sod," "twit," "bastard," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Spam is frequently maligned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters occasionally smoke and drink alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Monty Python's Flying Circus is a classic British sketch comedy series that includes some silly physical comedy skits that are fine for younger kids, but it's most appropriate for teens. The Pythons' humor is absurd and silly, but it also leans heavily toward the intellectual -- skits incorporate topics such as politics, classic literature, and historical figures and events. Some skits also have sexual themes and plenty of innuendo, but nothing more graphic than some occasional bits and pieces of brief nudity (mostly quick glimpses of bare breasts and unclad buns). Skits can also include violence, but it's always cartoon-like with the Pythons and always there for a laugh -- a roving gang of biker grannies pummels a victim with their pocketbooks; members of a Sousa-playing band explode into nothing, one by one; a housewife stuffs her turkey with a limp cat; and so on. One extra word of caution: Unlike Tom and Jerry and other cartoons with exaggerated violence, this show occasionally features real actors performing violent acts -- young kids won't grasp the humor and may think the action is happening in real life.
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Monty Python's Flying Circus
Based on 6 parent reviews
nudity pushes age range up
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Classic British Comedy
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What's the Story?
Created in the 1960s and beloved as a cult classic ever since, MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS stars the titular British sketch comedy troupe -- John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones. Creativity runs wild in skits like "A Man with a Tape Recorder Up His Brother's Nose," "Gorilla Librarian," and "Exploding Penguin on the TV Set." But there's more to the show than sheer absurd silliness. Many members of the troupe attended Oxford and Cambridge, and their smarts show up in most skits. (A very brief list of Python skit subjects: Queen Victoria, Richard Nixon, Proust, Picasso, Attila the Hun, the Spanish Inquisition, Hamlet, Wuthering Heights).
Is It Any Good?
The Pythons are an amazingly talented comedy bunch -- their humor is a mix of downright silliness, brilliant intellectualism, and over-the-top exaggeration. But with its sexual themes and innuendo (more on that below), cartoonish violence, and cerebral humor, this show is best for teens. What's more, some skits poke fun at the mentally and physically challenged, homosexuals, and people of other races and ethnicities (particularly the French). It's all in the name of humor/good fun, but younger kids won't be able to put it in context. Violence is exaggerated but all in fun -- a man is crushed by a 16-ton weight, dowdy matrons mix it up in a rugby-like brawl, a bloke reminisces about the time a gangster nailed his head to the floor, and a crazy self-defense instructor shoots his students when they attack him with fruit.
Overall, Monty Python's Flying Circus is a great example of what creative minds can accomplish when they work together. Anyone with an appreciation of comedy will see that these mates are masters of comedic timing, clever writing, character creation, and the art of physical comedy. Teens interested in acting and theater arts may be inspired by the show -- even though it originally aired in the late 1960s and '70s, it remains a grand example of talent and creativity and, frankly, is still hilarious.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Monty Python's Flying Circus' spoofs on historical events and figures (like World War II, the Spanish Inquisition, Picasso, and Trotsky) and other subjects also covered in classroom settings. Why is it funny that the Spanish Inquisition tortures victims with pillows and comfy chairs? What are the Pythons really making fun of in the "Ministry of Silly Walks" skit?
Families can also discuss how the all-male cast frequently dresses in drag to play women's roles. Why is it so funny? Is this tradition held over from Shakespeare's time?
What skits best show off the troupe's comedic timing, physical comedy, clever comedy writing, and creativity?
- Premiere date: October 5, 1969
- Cast: Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 17, 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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