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 Stuff You Should Know is a smart and unusual series that science lovers will enjoy, but which varies widely in terms of age appropriateness, covering topics from life in a beehive to criminal forensics. Graphic discussions about these topics are fantastic learning devices for precocious tweens and intellectual teens, but parents might want to preview the show or read the description before giving the OK, in case some kids aren't ready for information about decomposing bodies or the kinds of crimes that leave DNA evidence. All in all, this is a show where knowledge and curiosity are prized above all, so other than topic-specific concerns, the only other iffy stuff is some rare language ("ass" or bleeped "s--t"). Parents might enjoy watching along with kids and might be inspired to listen to the podcasts too.
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What's the story?
On the clever show-within-a-show reality-tinged sitcom STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW, Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are regular guys with a really cool job: They're podcasters for Discovery, and their How Stuff Works show is downloaded over 5 million times a month on iTunes. The weird part is, all that is true. Josh and Chuck really do work for Discovery, and really do host a podcast; in fact, the real podcasts are woven into Stuff You Should Know. But in mockumentary style, viewers also follow Josh and Chuck around as they gather material for the podcast, spar with co-workers, chafe under restrictions and orders from their grumpy boss, and deal with their own personal lives.
Is it any good?
Stuff You Should Know is hilarious. It won't surprise any How Stuff Works podcast listeners to know that both Josh and Chuck are quick and witty, but the showrunners have also gathered a sparkling, realistic-looking cast to surround them, and pulled together scripts that are reminiscent of early seasons of The Office, both in deadpan comic tenor and relatable happenings.
There's a level of silliness and absurdity that will be appreciated by the kind of people who appreciate Monty Python, backed with intelligent explorations of the kind of topics that will interest, um, probably the same Monty Python fans, but also those with a bent for weird facts and arcane knowledge. And the references and guests stars are nerdishly delicious: In one episode we get a shout-out to Bill Nye the Science Guy and a guest shot from NOVA scienceNOW's host Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what kind of show Stuff You Should Know is. Is it a reality show? A sitcom? A documentary? Is it like any other shows you have watched?
Knowing that Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are real guys with a real job, does it make you think that the goings-on in their office are realistic? Or do the antics seem heightened?
Have you listened to the How Stuff Works podcast? Does watching Stuff You Should Know make you want to listen? Do you suppose this was the aim of making a television show about How Stuff Works?
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