StarTalk

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
StarTalk TV Poster Image
Awkward format hinders radio-inspired science series.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Hosts and guests discuss a variety of scientific issues that touch our lives in different ways, keeping the topics easy for laypeople to grasp. In some cases, conversations also touch on issues such as social injustice and morality, always with a sense of observation rather than judgment. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tyson is a successful scientist who loves sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world. 

Violence
Sex
Language

"S--t" is edited. "Ass" is audible.   

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rare mentions of drinking and drunkenness in conversation.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that StarTalk is a science-based late-night show that blends matters of science and pop culture. Hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the show aligns clips of the host's interviews with well-known guests from the fields of entertainment, science, and politics with commentary from Tyson and a series of visiting cohosts. Most of the content relates to how scientific advances influence people's lives, but some conversations veer into matters of social justice, prejudice, and other moral issues, all of which are addressed with care and objectivity. Expect to hear some strong language ("ass" and the like are audible; "s--t" is edited). This show will appeal to science fans and, depending on the particular guests, perhaps a broader audience. 

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What's the story?

In STARTALK, astrophysicist and radio personality Neil deGrasse Tyson teams up with two new hosts each episode to discuss matters of science and pop culture. Notable guests such as Jimmy Carter, George Takei, and Arianna Huffington sit down with Tyson for conversations about how and where science and fiction connect today and what advancements the future might hold for us. Segments of these prerecorded interviews commingle with the hosts' conversations in reaction to them. Bill Nye also weighs in on the day's topic at the end of the show.

Is it any good?

Tyson rightfully has earned a reputation for his ability to turn lofty scientific concepts into fascinating entertainment. Based on his long-running radio show of the same name, StarTalk tries hard to ride the wave of its host's success into late-night prowess, but it's hampered by a choppy format that alternates between previously filmed interview clips and Tyson's panel discussions with his two guest hosts, typically comprising a comedian and a fellow scientist. Rather than keeping viewers' attention, it succumbs to redundancy since the interviews don't really need the kind of translation that's Tyson's bread and butter.

Tyson and his hosts seem at ease with each other, and their conversations are entertaining, but because the guests aren't interacting in person there's little flow to the episodes. That's not to say that the show's topics aren't interesting, and the inclusion of a comedian each time ensures that there's plenty of levity to the conversations regardless of the subject at hand. Ultimately, though, this show caters more to viewers with a specific interest in the topic of the day than it does to a general audience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of science fiction. Is the host's assertion that science fiction lays the groundwork for scientific advancements plausible? What products do we use on a regular basis today that can be traced to accessories in a vintage movie, book, or TV show? 

  • Teens: Should space exploration still be a priority for our nation? What can we gain by it? Is it worth the cost, or could that funding be better spent elsewhere?

  • How do scientific advances make our lives easier? Are there any instances in which you can say that a newfangled item complicates your life rather than simplifies it? How has the Internet revolutionized how we communicate? How do we relate to each other because of it? What new dangers exist because of it? 

TV details

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For kids who love science

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