Penn & Teller: Fool Us

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Penn & Teller: Fool Us TV Poster Image
Magic and skepticism mix in OK show for kids.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

Not yet rated

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this tv show.

Positive messages

Penn & Teller's entire schtick is to encourage viewers to look beyond what's being presented to them and to have a healthy skepticism. Kids, with their tendency to believe anything they're told, are the perfect audience for such a message.

Positive role models & representations

The focus here is on trickery and observation, not character, but Penn and Teller are smart and hard to fool. Most magicians are male with mostly scantily dressed female assistants.

Violence

Some tricks involve a showy threat of violence: stabbings, gunshots, being sawed in half. Other illusions involve fake injuries such as a through-the-hand stabbing during a card trick, with dripping blood.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Actual working magicians are featured on the show; the logos, signs, and attractions of various Las Vegas casinos are flashed on-screen.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Penn & Teller: Fool Us originally was a British television show featuring magicians and comedians trying to debunk the tricks of other magicians. There is very little to worry parents on this show. Some tricks have a mild element of violence, such as the threat of being sawed in half or shot with a gun or a fake stabbing with dripping blood; very young or sensitive viewers may be frightened. Kids, particularly those with an interest in magic or showmanship, may benefit from learning how to view what's being shown with a healthy skepticism.

User Reviews

Parent Written byColette V. September 3, 2017

Great show with unexpected shock

Very entertaining show to watch with the family....until the very end (episode 1, season 1) when the magician's assistant is 'accidentally' sawn...

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What's the story?

With decades of magic and performing under their belts, comedy duo Penn & Teller know how just about every kind of magic trick is accomplished. In PENN & TELLER: FOOL US, the illusionists invite fellow magicians to perform their tricks before a live audience. After watching from a seat on the stage, Penn and Teller try to figure out how the trick was done. If they can, the magician leaves in mild shame. But if he fools Penn and Teller, he's invited to perform at a Las Vegas casino.

Is it any good?

It's always interesting to watch a good magician ply his or her trade, and Penn and Teller have managed to pull a good slate, with fascinating tricks that run the gamut from card tricks to illusions involving a performer escaping from a locked trunk. That the duo spends time after every trick to concur and then reveal to the audience some of the aspects of how it was done gives this show a cool edge. Magicians will appreciate that Penn and Teller don't actually blurt out all their secrets. Instead, they suggest the crux of the trick and let the audience guess at the details.

That may prove frustrating to young magicians who are watching and trying to learn tricks of the trade. However, it does make the show interesting for family viewing. If you know that the secret of the trick is connected with a particular sleight-of-hand movement or with a prop, you can debate: How was it done? Even younger kids can learn to view what they see with skepticism, and this show will help in that regard.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of a show in which magic tricks are being examined and criticized. Why can't an audience just enjoy the illusion without trying to figure out how it was done?

  • Do you like magic? Does a viewer need to enjoy magic to enjoy this show?

  • Why does Penn mention the name of the casino where he and Teller perform during the narration that opens the show?

TV details

For kids who love shows to watch together

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