Prank It Fwd

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Prank It Fwd TV Poster Image
Positive prank show is uplifting; some iffy content.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Positivity oozes from these videos, which feature people who are deserving and downtrodden and get something they really want. Viewers may find they mist up watching the joy of those who are "pranked" -- but they shouldn't forget the prank channel's commercial aims, either. Like all YouTube videos, each one contains an ad, and generally other marketing messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Participants typically change with each video. Older videos are hosted by Greg Benson, who is kind and enthusiastic but sometimes makes off-color jokes.

Violence
Sex

Occasional off-color content, like when a man claims to hire (male) strippers for a party (they don't really strip). 

Language

Cursing and language includes "ass," "bitches" (used to refer to a group of women), "damn," "f---ing" (bleeped), "balls."

Consumerism

Each short video begins with an advertisement and generally contains another marketing message, for products that may not be kid-friendly. "Let's pour some Barefoot bubbly," Benson says at the end of one prank; others mention Kellogg's Frosted Flakes as a sponsor. The marketing messages are subverted somewhat by the broadcasters' charitable goals: For every 1,000 views, $1 is donated to a progressive nonprofit. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some videos, particularly older ones, may refer to alcohol or may feature scenes with participants drinking: Faux cops bring a vodka ice luge to a party; red Solo cups appear at a bingo night, helpfully labeled "drinks"; a man is urged to "chug! chug! chug!" from a bottle of champagne. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Prank It Fwd is a YouTube series that features short videos of positive "pranks" being played on deserving "victims." The pranks are generally quite sweet and positive: rewarding a hard-working waitress, for example, or turning a homeless shelter into a luxury restaurant. But videos may contain iffy content, such as parties where people are urged to chug from booze bottles, or a host who asks if there will be any "fine-ass bitches" at a gathering. Other videos may contain marketing messages not aimed at young viewers, such as toasts sponsored by a sparkling wine maker. Parents may want to point out that Prank It Fwd is a commercial network that sells ads on its videos and takes money from sponsors. It also donates money to those pranked, and to nonprofit causes when certain social/viewership goals are reached. Cursing and strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "damn," "f---ing" (bleeped), and "balls."

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What's the story?

First launched in 2014 by Smosh and a bunch of YouTube prank channels, PRANK IT FWD is hosted by YouTube channel Break and features short videos in which deserving recipients are fooled by kind-hearted pranks: a young girl with leukemia who wants to meet her two favorite YouTubers; customers at a car repair shop whose bills are unexpectedly paid; a tween who visits a comic shop and finds that one of the characters he created has been brought to life with a super-cool superhero uniform. All these people and others are teased and bamboozled -- before being given something they really, really want. For every 1,000 views or social media tags/shares, Break will donate $1 to a progressive nonprofit. 

Is it any good?

There are millions of prank videos on YouTube, but this series stands out by playing positive tricks on victims, spreading love and support in a surprisingly uplifting way. Viewers who watch as a hard-working house cleaner gets a day to relax (oh, and then a new house, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico), or as street performers get unexpected huge tips may find themselves misting up a little -- and then watching on for more warm fuzzies. 

Some content, especially in older videos, may be a bit strong for younger kids, and some who watch may be confused as to why the word "prank" is being used for a stunt that's meant to be kind instead of making someone look like a fool. But the sweetness of these shorts makes Prank It Fwd a good bet for tweens and teens who'll enjoy watching deserving strangers have a surprisingly great day -- and for parents who need a little happy boost, too. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of a prank show. What types of pranks are usually featured on YouTube? How are the Prank It Fwd pranks different? 

  • Does the fact that Prank It Fwd donates money to charity make you want to watch more? Do you think the show has any other reasons to encourage more viewers to watch? 

  • What types of people does Prank It Fwd feature? Describe them. Are they sympathetic? Why would the series be more likely to feature people that viewers will like and relate to? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 25, 2017
  • Network: YouTube
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: NR
  • Available on: Streaming

For kids who love comedy

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