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Real Time with Bill Maher

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Real Time with Bill Maher TV Poster Image
Mature, profane political comedy for grown-ups.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The entire show is based on the idea of questioning authority. Sometimes Maher just goes for a cheap laugh at the expense of a politician's ridiculous policy, and sometimes he and his guests have a thoughtful discussion on the merits or failings of specific proposals ... and then go for the laugh. Either way, he manages to shed light on the democratic process, for good or for ill. It's an excellent argument in favor of the First Amendment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Maher is incredibly smart, opinionated, and well-informed. He doesn't hide is left-wing and sometimes politically incorrect views and at least attempts to give the opposing viewpoint a place at the table. That said, he can get really mean-spirited with some of his criticisms. He's been accused of sexism, and plenty of other things...


No sex or nudity, but Maher and his guests frequently discuss or make references to sex, often using explicit language, innuendo, or hand gestures.


Maher peppers his monologues and interviews with words like "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," and more (all of which are unbleeped, since this is pay cable). He also makes frequent references to sex, using both innuendo and less-subtle phrases, and he sometimes uses suggestive hand gestures to make sure the audience gets the point.


Many guests are authors and journalists, and the show repeatedly mentions the media outlets where they work and promotes their recent books, which are displayed on screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drinking or drug use shown, but many references to both.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this show is meant for adults. Host/comedian Bill Maher is very funny, but he swears like a sailor: He uses just about every expletive in the book and sometimes makes up a few new ones in his interviews and monologues. The results can be side-splitting but clearly aren't for kids. Plus, without an in-depth understanding of current events, politics, and adult emotions, it's hard to even understand a lot of the jokes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGina L. September 16, 2016


Cynical, crude, morally bankrupt and one-sided. He represents everything that is wrong with today's society..I can't change the channel fast enough.
Adult Written byRogerS17 January 14, 2018

smart and crude talk show.

I am not a fan of Bill Maher but I have seen his show before. Compared to most adult shows on HBO this one is not that not that crude but there are some sex jo... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDragynwulf July 28, 2010

Great show, good for younger teens if they're mature

This is one of my favourite comedy show (the daily show is the other one). Really, most 13 year olds can handle this. And there are positive messages, by the w... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bycinnagurl March 30, 2013

Bill Maher

I watch this with my mom and we love it! especially my mom!

What's the story?

Comedian Bill Maher is very funny, very well-informed, and very insightful, but he's also very crass. His political talk show, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, features pundits, authors, politicians, and journalists discussing the news of the day; though he and his guests make light of weighty topics, they also manage to have important discussions about important issues. With the Internet delivering basic news to viewers almost in real-time and the relevance of traditional TV newscasts increasingly in doubt, Maher and other political commentators are now filling a gap between entertainment and journalism. They provide a serious analysis of important events and laughs.

Is it any good?

Maher aims both high and below the belt. His barbs demand that viewers be up to date on current events -- if not, they won't get many of his rapid-fire jokes. In fact, he's so quick-witted that even sharp viewers may have trouble keeping up with all the references to pop culture, political infighting, and the latest juicy scandals, but those who can follow along will enjoy the ride. Maher makes no effort to hide either his left-wing views or his contempt for politicians who misuse their authority or fail to live up to his expectations -- but he also praises those who do their job without kowtowing to special interests or succumbing to the temptations of power.

Maher also expects his audience to have plenty of tolerance for blue humor. His jokes are profane and riddled with explicit sexual references, and he often pokes fun at the use and abuse of alcohol and other intoxicants. It's funny, but it's very much aimed at adults. And though he sometimes misses (Maher came under fire shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks when he appeared to defend the terrorists by saying that flying planes into buildings was "not cowardly"), most of his jokes are dead-on.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about politics. Maher makes no effort to hide his liberal personal views; whether you agree with him or not, there's plenty of room for debate about current events. Do you think Maher ever goes too far? Are any of his dirty jokes too dirty? Is his language too vulgar? Talk show hosts typically want to generate controversy, but do you think Maher ever goes beyond the boundaries of good taste? Who decides where those lines are and when they're crossed?

TV details

  • Premiere date: February 21, 2003
  • Cast: Bill Maher
  • Network: HBO
  • Genre: Comedy
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Available on: DVD

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