Pop Up Video

TV review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Pop Up Video TV Poster Image
Poking fun at videos works for teens and up.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show offers trivia about the music, videos, and performers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The show's writers sometimes resort to poking fun at the performers when they run out of good trivia.


The violence depicted in music videos isn't as graphic as that on TV shows, but, nevertheless, you can see anything from fist fights to shootouts.


Considering how many music videos feature sex-related material -- lascivious lyrics, scantily clad dancers, Madonna! -- it's no surprise that sex is a common theme in nearly every episode. Runs the gamut from innuendoes to partial nudity.


Some songs contain offensive language ("damn," "bitch") and often their "pop ups" do, too.


Yes, from actual products to the music itself. In general, though, commercialism isn't as rampant as in other shows.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some video performers/characters imbibe and indulge in some/all of the above (drugs, alcohol, tobacco), sometimes to excess.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this addictive trivia/music video show is, above everything else, all about the laughs. Sometimes those laughs are quite cheap, somewhat bawdy, and even downright mean. Still, for viewers with the maturity to get the jokes, it's quite fun.

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What's the story?

POP UP VIDEO features trivia kernels that are served up in easily digestible thought bubbles displayed over music videos. These thought bubbles are, for the most part, designed to give voice to what viewers might be thinking as they watch the videos. The info-nuggets aren't purely informational, and on the best episodes, they're hilarious, catty, silly, and surprising. Who would've guessed, for example, that the video for Robert Plant's \"Addicted to Love\" was inspired not by mimes but by a form of Japanese theater? That greeting-card writers get paid in the hundreds for their sappy sentences? Or that the word \"choreophiliac\" refers to someone who gets sexually excited when dancing?

Is it any good?

Some of the show's not-so-good episodes can be hard to digest: The information is sometimes ho-hum, the pop-culture references not esoteric enough. Sometimes it seems like the writers are scraping the bottom of the barrel for a piece of trivia worth including in the episode. (What could be worse than trivia that's so trivial as to be uninteresting and unfunny? Example: "More people drink tea than water." Big deal!)

Even worse are the potshots taken at the artists themselves; the show sometimes gives the impression that when writers run out of juicy details to dish out, they resort to poking fun -- which, more often than not, doesn't quite hit the mark (and doesn't really fit with the show's lighthearted, fun tone, either). Nevertheless, the tangential nature of the tangents themselves is what makes Pop Up Video so enjoyable. Writers rightly mimic the way that viewers tend to leap from one subject to the next while watching anything on television -- it's pure, pleasurable stream of consciousness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about music videos in general and how powerful they are at getting the message of a song across. Why do some videos seem to not have anything to do with the actual lyrics? Who comes up with their themes? What types of issues do they address? As for the pop-ups, do they come from left field? How do ideas connect from one to the next? Do the pop-ups make you pay more attention to the video than you might have otherwise? What effects does that have on your viewing?

TV details

  • Premiere date: October 27, 1996
  • Network: VH1
  • Genre: Music Videos
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: DVD
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

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