Parents' Guide to

Penn & Teller: Bulls--t!

By Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Unscientific debunking for laughs; adult material.

Penn & Teller: Bulls--t! Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 18+

The veil is puled back on the TRUE Penn and Teller, and it's NOT pretty.

Much like Adam Ruins Everything, this show touts that it reveals "truth" over scams and secrets to 'inform' the world and make it better. Well , take away the past cutesie act you know of Penn and Teller and fill it with nonstop vulgarity, nudity and a VERY cynical and pretentious world view. This is a soap box for Penn to exude his disdain, not only for scammers, but for religion and other viewpoints in general. It's disgustingly self indulgent self importance comes off so arrogant at times that it is unwatchable to anyone that isn't as abrasive as the host. On the upside, it is informative and correct at times, but in the end the super ego known as the super talker "Penn" spoils the soup with his over the top and unfiltered condescending insults.
age 15+

Meh.

Yes, this show is pretty vulgar. It depicts every swear word we know, marijuana (which is actually just bullsh-t so that doesn't count) and beer. The only thing not shown is actual penetration, although nude public masturbation and nude females being pleasured by tantric sex males publicly. However, the truth is, most 15-year-olds are probably jacking off to porn by this age (90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls at least) so either confront them about that or let them watch this. The rest is nothing not on cable or used at school. Some episodes are even almost completely clean, for instance those on Recycling, Organic Food, and Video Games. Just stay away from those on Porn, Prostitution, and Abstinence. That's just... common sense.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (4 ):

The series' choice and treatment of topics is likely colored by Penn and Teller's own political and personal beliefs. They don't set out to investigate a complete situation or consider arguments opposing their own. Instead, they present a premise (that topic X is bulls--t) and set out to prove it. The results are often amusing, and sometimes even hilarious, but the humor comes before the pursuit of objective reality. Possibly to avoid liability, Penn slings around phrases like "ignoramus," "a--hole," "spineless bastard," and "state-funded knucklehead" to describe those whose views are being targeted. (Teller is always silent; that's part of the team's act.) Apparently, these phrases are only seen as vulgar abuse, while phrases like "liar" and "fraud" open doors to legal action for defamation or slander.

Penn and Teller's humor is smart, pointed, and inventive. Those who enjoy it may well find this show a laugh riot -- and those who can approach the ideas tackled here with an open mind might find themselves thinking differently about something they hadn't considered before. That's Penn and Teller's schtick -- they are the illusionist masters of disillusion. Just remember that they also use illusion to make their disillusionist point. Perhaps we'd be paying them the highest compliment by applying healthy skepticism to the views they support.

TV Details

  • Premiere date: January 24, 2003
  • Network: Showtime
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Last updated: January 28, 2024

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