Onion News Network

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
Onion News Network TV Poster Image
Savage satire of cable network news with mature content.

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The content of the stories walks a fine line between biting satire and tastelessness -- a young white woman in a murder trial is to be tried as a "large black man," for example. The messages are usually critical and mocking of society, government, and culture.

Positive Role Models

The anchors are all questionable figures from a moral and professional standpoint, played for laughs.


No real onscreen violence, although some of the comedy stories do focus on violent acts, such as murder and assault.


Stories occasionally utilize sexual language which is sometimes the punch line of the joke, for example, a story celebrating the inventor of an explicit sexual act.


Only the strongest words such as "f--k" are bleeped; words such as "a--hole," "handjob," and "s--t" are aired without bleeps.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

While there is little onscreen consumption depicted, alcohol and drugs are occasionally used as part of a joke or as a punch line.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this biting satire of cable news networks often veers close to tasteless humor in its pursuit of the sharpest possible comedy. If a viewer does not understand the level and intent of the satire, it would be easy to assume the show is crass and exploitative. Only the strongest swear words ("f--k") are bleeped and while there is no nudity, there is open and explicit discussion of sexual situations.

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Kid, 9 years old May 29, 2011


Love this, almost everyone will love this.

What's the story?

The Onion has become a comedy institution, starting first as a print newspaper featuring news parodies and evolving into a popular website, a smartphone app, a series of video podcasts, and a sports satire series. Now The Onion takes its sharp satirical claws and digs them into the cable news stalwarts of Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC with a half-hour parody.

Is it any good?

Great satire is that which can offend just as easily as it amuses. It's a form of comedy that requries a sharp edge, one that has the potential to wound. In print, The Onion has perfected the delicate task of creating satire that amuses more than it offends, and now that strategy is on display on Onion News Network (ONN), a savage parody of cable network news and a satire of our culture's ongoing infatuation with sensationalism and empty rhetoric.

Like The Onion's newspaper and website, the stories on ONN range from the silly to the savage. A running gag about a fake psychedelic band in which Vice-President Joe Biden was the lead singer shares screen time with a brilliant series of stories on an ONN reporter who has been captured in Afghanistan with no hair and makeup people. It's all played so straight that it's frequently more amusing than funny -- in other words, there may not be many belly laughs, but it's impossible to deny the quality of the comedy. It also may be hardest to laugh when comedy hits this close to our society's basest TV-viewing desires.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the show focuses its satire on how the news media portrays violence. Do you think the media's coverage of violence is responsible or exploitative?

  • In order to be effective, satire often skirts the line between being offensive and being critical. Do you think this show manages to satirize without offending?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

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