The Cleveland Show

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
The Cleveland Show TV Poster Image
Raunchy animated Family Guy spin-off isn't for kids.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 20 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 78 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Despite its raunchy tone/content and frequent reliance on race-based humor and other stereotypes, the show does have a sweet undertone thanks to Cleveland and Donna's relationship. The show also demonstrates how people can sometimes be blind to the obvious faults of others -- but if they can learn to stand up for themselves and see these people for what they are, they can find happiness with someone else.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cleveland is an unlikely role model. Even though his parenting is dubious and he’s often focused on having sex or drinking beer, he is also a strong advocate for persistently pursuing your dreams -- even in the face of adversity.


Little explicit violence, though some characters do have guns, which sometimes go off accidentally for comic effect.


Frequent references to sex and sexual activities. A boy in elementary school drops his pencil on purpose as an excuse to look up the skirts of his classmates. Cleveland says he hopes to “get in a bit of petting” on a date. Another character says he wants to “touch boobs.” There’s no animated sex or visible cartoon genitalia, but couples do kiss, and Cleveland appears naked in the bath.


Pretty raunchy for primetime animated fare, though that likely won’t come as a surprise for fans of creator Seth MacFarlane. Though none of the most explicit swear words are used, expect plenty of others, including “boobs,” “douche" (used as a put-down), “damn,” “jive-ass turkey,” “what the hell,” and others. The show also features many comments about race and plenty of references to sex.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several characters often hang out at a bar drinking beer, and Cleveland and Donna sometimes drink wine at home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cleveland Show -- an animated spin-off of Family Guy -- is too racy for young kids. Creator Seth MacFarlane’s brand of humor is heavy on shock value -- as in sequences that seem to condone sexual harassment among elementary school students or encourage teens to ignore their parents' instructions -- and includes lots of over-the-top references to sex and drinking. The series is also rife with racially-tinged comments and other salty language (including words like "douche" and "boobs"). All of the edgy content unfortunately overwhelms the genuinely sweet message about love and family at the core of the show.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byYonggary AKA Re... December 19, 2018

Donna is cool.

this show wasn't a masterpiece, but it wasn't really bad either. the character of Donna was interesting and you could identify with her, because even... Continue reading
Parent of a 2-year-old Written byMilesFlyer September 28, 2009
Kid, 11 years old February 18, 2018

If you liked Family Guy You Love this

Racist comments offensive to african americans and stereotypes on white people form the south
Teen, 13 years old Written byshowcritic2000 December 16, 2011

not as innappropriate as family guy

this isn't as funny, inappropriate, or clever as family guy

What's the story?

After an acrimonious divorce leaves him homeless, Cleveland Brown (voiced by Mike Henry) moves back to his hometown and marries his high school sweetheart, Donna (Sanaa Lathan). The new couple, along with Cleveland’s teenage son, Cleveland Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson), and Donna’s two kids -- mouthy high school student Roberta (Reagan Gomez-Preston) and precocious kindergartener Rallo (Henry again) -- try to create a happy, blended family in this animated comedy spin-off of Family Guy. (Naturally, their neighbors happen to be a family of bears -- yes, actual bears.)

Is it any good?

Fans of Family Guy know what to expect from creator Seth MacFarlane. Each episode of THE CLEVELAND SHOW is rude, crude, and raunchy, with quirky characters and plenty of jokes about sex and drinking that aim low and try to wring laughs from sheer shock value. As in MacFarlane’s other shows, nothing is off-limits here, especially race. Cleveland is African American, and the show is riddled with quips and offhand comments that play on stereotypes and clichés. You could argue that MacFarlane deserves credit for addressing the topic at all, since so many other shows don't, but the show does little to advance any real discussion of the issue.

The show has a soft and sweet center, as Cleveland tries to pursue his dreams and find love with his old flame. But this positive message is almost completely buried in sophomoric humor, and it’s hardly worth the effort to sift through the dreck to get there.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about raunchy humor. Many of the show's jokes tread very close to the line between outrageous and offensive. Do you find shows like this funny, or do they go too far? Who decides what "too far" is?

  • The show features repeated references to race and often includes jokes based on racial stereotypes. Is that kind of humor ever OK?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedies

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate