Mystery Science Theater 3000

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Silly/smart bad-movie commentary is a teen geek's delight.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

If there's any message in this series, it's that being smart, witty, and a bit cynical can draw lots of laughs.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though everything is up for mockery in this show, the main characters are actually pretty nice to each other. Though the characters on the Satellite of Love are in opposition to their mad scientist captors, it mostly plays out in a game of intellectual one-upmanship, i.e. trying to outdo each other's brilliant inventions. The lack of female characters, particularly in earlier seasons of the show, is a bummer.


Joel/Mike and the robots are imprisoned on the Satellite of Love but there's never a hint of any real menace. Some movies feature monsters and murders but the snickering commentary and frequent break-ins dispel any scariness.


Largely depends on the movie being lampooned. Some are quite suggestive, i.e. lots of girls in scanty clothing and some implied sex. But since the shows originally aired on television, there is no nudity.


Depends on the movie being featured, but any curses stronger than "hell" are generally cut out. The mad scientists and the Satellite of Love denizens frequently mock each other, but that's more of a nerdy rank-out designed to display superior intelligence than true insult.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters in some movies may smoke, drink, or do drugs. Many movies do take place in a criminal milieu.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the very definition of a cult show: It's not for everyone, but those who like it really like it. Because the show's premise relies on an old movie being played as the main characters watch, iffy content can vary depending on which movie is the focus. Occasional scenes of violence or scantily clad women appear in these movies, but the humorous tone of the series lightens any heavy scenes. The humor runs the gamut from toilet humor to truly erudite geek jokes. Older teens, particularly those with a bent for sci fi, fantasy, and technology, can appreciate the show, though they may need a geeky, well-read mom or dad to explain a lot of the references.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byjimlapbap May 31, 2020

Innovative way to watch older low budget movies with kids

The older the episode, the more dated the references might be, but a lot of the jokes are pretty timeless. Plus, there's a joke every 2 seconds in case the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byXthemystic April 5, 2021

Greetings from the satellite of love

Mst3k as a show is pretty good. Sure there are some more lude jokes, but I know from experience they will go over a younger child's head. I actually got a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHugh Jackman May 5, 2019


This show makes me laugh so much. The bad special effects, bad acting and the funny commentary on top of that.

What's the story?

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000's theme song sets up the entire plot of the show: Joel (later replaced by Mike) is just another guy in a red jumpsuit at the Gizmonic Institute. His mad scientists bosses didn't like him, so they shot him into space. There, with the help of his (puppet) robot pals, he's trapped on the Satellite of Love, forced to watch the cheesiest bad movies of all time, while the Mads keep track of his reactions back on Earth. Joel and the 'Bots cope by roundly mocking the movies they must watch, commenting wryly in silhouette on the lower right of the screen as the movie plays. The Satellite of Love also competes with the Mads to invent the wackiest objects, such as canine antiperspirant or the scratch-n-sniff report card.

Is it any good?

Profoundly ridiculous and shockingly smart, this series became an instant nerd classic when it premiered in 1988 on an obscure Minnesota television station, and time has not diminished its luster. Though the idea of a guy in a space suit and a couple of robots (one shaped like a gumball machine!) wisecracking about bad movies is admittedly goofy, the lightning-quick wit and astonishing cleverness of the cast's quips will first kill you with laughter, then send you running to Wikipedia. You may find yourself looking up Werner Ehrhard or Merchant-Ivory or the cast of Starsky & Hutch after each episode; rest assured that there are annotated guides of obscure MST3K references online.

The quality of the movies mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000 varies widely, but the quality of the jokes made about them absolutely doesn't. Thus pretty much every two-hour episode is genius, and beloved by smart science-y types the world over. Not everyone will enjoy the show, but those who enjoy it become the kind of slavish fans who would happily attend a Mystery Science Theater 3000 -con or -o-rama. Watching any episode is (about) two hours of guaranteed fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Mystery Science Theater 3000 takes on obscure bad movies. What makes these movies "bad"? How are they different from the kinds of movies you go to see in the theater? Is the dialogue different? Plots? Costumes, lighting, scenery?

  • The Satellite of Love characters and the mad scientists compete over who can invent the most interesting or useful objects. Do you ever see anything on the show that you think is a good idea? Do you ever have ideas for inventions?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate