A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?