Pitchmen TV Poster Image




Secrets of the infomercial exposed; OK for older kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show exposes some of the direct-order industry's sometimes-misleading "tricks of the trade" -- as in one case where the host chooses not to go through with a demonstration and someone else's hand is substituted.

Positive role models

The two hosts don't really get along and frequently put each other down, although they're not vicious about it. Most of the featured inventors are men, and the show seems somewhat male-centric in its overall sensibility. In one case, for example, the inventor of a baby bottle holder for busy mothers is told that the market for her product is too small, while a product for GPS owners gets the go-ahead.


One product demonstration, which is repeated multiple times to prove a product's effectiveness, shows a hammer being slammed down onto a hand sandwiched between shock-absorbing gel; in the same episode, an SUV is driven over the hand-and-gel sandwich. But the whole point is that no one gets injured.

Not applicable

Audible language includes words like "piss" and "crapp"; "ass" and "f--k" are bleeped.


The show is about real-world advertising, so many products are mentioned and shown. But even given that context, it doesn't feel excessive -- it's more about providing context and/or because they're part of the working environment.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional scenes of wine drinking as part of a celebration.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this show about how commercials are made for direct-order products might make you think twice the next time you see an infomerical on TV. Not surprisingly, many real-world products are featured, and some of the industry's tricks of the trade are exposed. While the topic may not appeal to many kids, there's not much in the way of age-inappropriate content except for a few bleeped swear words and occasional celebratory drinks. There is a lot of bickering between the hosts, but it's not mean-spirited.

What's the story?

But wait, there's more! In a way, PITCHMEN is, at its core, about how that iconic phrase has become a part of our cultural lexicon. Infomercial hosts Billy Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan work with inventors of various odd products to make ads for the direct-order market. The series documents the process all the way from the inventor's pitch to how some of the products are made to how well they eventually do on the market.

Is it any good?


Pitchmen is suprisingly fun. While watching Mays and Sullivan bicker might get grating after an episode or two, the process is fascinating and the storytelling is clean and even funny at times. And there are lots of engaging interviews with the inventors.

While the hosts clearly relish their role in helping inventors make their dreams come true, they do place a lot of emphasis on products. That said, a lot of those products are designed to make people's lives better, and ultimately, that's what sells -- so it's a win-win situation, with or without a special bonus offer thrown in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what this show teaches viewers about how products are marketed. What tactics do the hosts use? How does that affect your perception of the product they're demonstrating?

  • How are the techniques described here similar to and different from those used in more conventional advertising? Which has a stronger impact on you? Why?

TV details

Premiere date:April 15, 2009
Cast:Anthony Sullivan, Billy Mays
Network:Discovery Channel
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG

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Kid, 11 years old June 28, 2009

RIP Billy Mays

RIP Billy Mays!! Oxy clean rox!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byscrublade June 22, 2009


This show says it features new inventions but what I have seen is it copies other peoples products and features them as there own. Not very good for business... The GATORBLADE is a full blown copy of the Scrublade that has been on the market for 4 years and is patent pending. Sully & Billy have known about this for a long time but have decided that there ratings are more important then there character. Put real inventors on the show not people that steal product and name them something different! How do you sleep at night "So CALLED INVENTOR?!"


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