A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Saturday Night Live is a sketch showwith sexual, political, and racial humor that may be too mature for some kids -- but it could also fly right over their head. Stereotypes abound, from ditzy girls to angry black men, and they're treated with differing levels of social critique -- some shallow, some deeper. Due to the show's live nature, occasional curse words or other unplanned activity occurs (such as when Sinead O'Connor ripped up a photograph of the Pope on air). Many parents may remember their own experiences with SNL growing up and should know that, if anything, the show is tamer now than it was in its early years.
What's the story?
For over 30 years, NBC's SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE has been broadcasting comedy sketches and musical performances from Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. Some of today's veteran comedians started on the show -- Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase -- and it's where a number of contemporary comedy movie stars also got their first big break, including Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell. Sketches often parody timely events, politics, and celebrities, providing an astute form of social commentary.
Is it any good?
Over the years, the quality of the show has varied, both from season to season and from episode to episode. But for the most part, Saturday Night Live has been a place to see solid, live comedy with a broad, mature appeal. Other similar shows may have topped it comedically (In Living Color, The Kids in the Hall), but none have endured the test of time to become a living institution like SNL
In the late '90s and 2000s, Tina Fey's smart, biting delivery as the co-host of the long-standing news parody segment "Weekend Update" became a highlight of the show. Her role as both performer and head writer for SNL marked a shift from the 1990s, when series creator Lorne Michaels was under fire for a lack of a female voice on the show. Musical guests, who usually play two live songs during the course of the show, are also top-rate and diverse, ranging from Paul Simon to Britney Spears.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Saturday Night Live's characters -- especially those based on stereotypes -- to ensure that teens understand the layers of comedy. What makes something funny?
What is the purpose of satire in our culture? How do you feel when someone you admire is being made fun of -- like a politician or celebrity? What would our culture be like if we weren't allowed to mock authority figures and role models?
For kids who love comedy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.