TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Sugar TV Poster Image
Star musicians surprise fans with intimate performances.

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

Positive Messages

Jam-packed with uplifting stories about people from all walks of life who have overcome big obstacles to succeed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Individuals featured are a diverse bunch who show strength, perseverance in face of challenges like addiction, divorce, medical problems, being stuck in foster care system, and more. The stars who surprise them with performances try to make personal connections with the recipients, and talk about how important it is to give back and have gratitude.


One of the participants talks about being beaten as a child. Another discusses his previous life as a gang member in South Central Los Angeles (which ultimately led to various stints in prison), though not a lot of detail is given.


"Damn," "hell," "s--t." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some episodes are filmed at bars, so there are scenes with adults drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages. A scene where Snoop Dogg smokes a blunt while watching a video of the young man he's about to surprise with a performance.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sugar is a YouTube Premium series produced by Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and The Voice. Taking inspiration from Maroon 5's video for their song "Sugar," each episode features a different superstar musician surprising an unsuspecting fan with a performance. The fans are nominated by friends and family, and they discuss the various reasons they believe their friend is deserving -- there are folks who've struggled through the foster care system, hard-working school teachers, and people who have sustained serious injuries after a car accident. Discussions of issues like divorce, overcoming drug addiction, life after prison, and more are heard. Some scenes take place at bars and parties, so drinking is seen. Snoop Dogg smokes a blunt as he watches video footage on an iPad.

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What's the story?

In Maroon 5's video for their chart-topping song "SUGAR," the band travels across Los Angeles shocking and delighting unsuspecting couples by performing at their weddings -- and though the music video is only partly real (and majorly scripted), front man Adam Levine's new YouTube Premium series SUGAR takes the same feel-good concept but makes it real. The show brings in other performers -- an impressive array of stars like Kelly Clarkson, Fifth Harmony, Snoop Dogg, and Blake Shelton -- and shows them surprising their fans (who have been nominated by friends or family members) with intimate performances at schools, dive bars, workplaces, and even a subway station.

Is it any good?

Whether you're a fan of the artist featured of not, you're likely to come away with a new appreciation for them as you see the sheer joy they and their audiences feel during each surprise appearance. Rapper A$AP Ferg does a sneak-attack performance for a hardworking music teacher at what his middle school students think is going to be a regular recital, and he seems blown away by the young schoolkids and their energy. He happily notes that they knew every word to his song, even though they're too young to attend his concerts, and reflects on the joy and sense of responsibility that kind of influence brings. It's great fun to see performers stretch themselves in this way, in many cases working outside their usual comfort zone, and the inspiring group of folks producers chose to treat to these mini-shows are by and large a deserving bunch. Sugar is a win-win for artists and audiences alike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they might react if they were surprised by their favorite performer. What would you want to say to them? How would you feel about being nominated?

  • Some of the stars who perform on Sugar talk about how the energy of the crowds they are playing to in these episodes is different than what they are used to. What do you think accounts for that difference?

  • Many of the people nominated for this show have displayed great strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. If you had an opportunity to nominate someone for Sugar, who would you choose and why? What character strengths does that person display?

TV details

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