Mr. Show

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Mr. Show TV Poster Image
Edgy, goofy sketch comedy with mature themes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Targets are generally mainstream folks. No jokes about people of color, etc.


Mock comic violence, like a news reporter shooting another for a scoop. No blood.


Scenes of men and women in bed allude to sex but aren't directly sexual. Brief shots of women in underwear (also generally not sexual). Jokes involving prostitution, the idea of "frigidity," etc.


Explicit and frequent, but not excessive. Words like "f--k," "s--t," "donkey d--k," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional jokes with drug or alcohol references, such as mention of a secret room for bongs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this cable sketch comedy show includes uncensored profanity, some sexual elements, and mock violence (though the language has been bleeped/cleaned up for syndicated airings). Some skits show couples in bed and brief shots of women in their underwear, and jokes cover everything from hiring prostitutes to "frigid" women and hitting on women in bars -- but they mainly poke fun at the male characters, and the jokes aren't at the expense of the women. Mock-violent scenes include a riot at a protest where a police officer is hit on the head and pulls his gun and points it at attackers. In another skit, a news reporter acts as a sniper and shoots at people from a rooftop.

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What's the story?

MR. SHOW is an edgy sketch comedy series that originally aired on HBO in the mid-'90s (it now runs in syndication and is available on DVD). Comedians Bob Odenkirk and David Cross star in the show, abetted by a rotating cast that includes the likes of Sarah Silverman and Jack Black. Skits poke fun at targets like TV news, Ugly American college kids, and political protesters (though the comedy generally stays away from specific political themes), and its absurdist take on American culture offers commentary on shared values, trends, and popular culture. One skit, for example, parodies the fierce competition between TV news channels. A news commentator fans a small outdoor fire before announcing that he's first on the scene of a forest fire, but moments later, another newscaster shoots him, steps in front of the camera, and announces that she's first on the scene where a news reporter has just been shot.

Is it any good?

Mr. Show is generally considered to be one of the better sketch comedy series in the genre's history. Fans know that it's also fairly intellectual; skits cover topics as wide-ranging as Anne Frank's house and anti-communist propaganda films of the 1950s. But because the show contains a good deal of profanity, as well as occasional sexual innuendo and mock violence, parents may want to keep younger viewers away. Still, most teens will understand that the sexual and violent elements are part of the larger parody.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what the show makes fun of. Why are these things targets for spoofs and parodies? What do you think of TV news? Is there anything funny about it in your experience? What cultural issues or trends do you think deserve being made fun of? What's the purpose of politically or socially oriented humor? What happens when you hear a joke about something that makes you uncomfortable?

TV details

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