The Colbert Report

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Colbert Report TV Poster Image
Shrewd talk show spoof is edgy but hilarious.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 27 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Nothing is sacred, and the show takes a fairly cynical attitude toward politics, government, and just about every other institution in America -- though Colbert also uses his considerable influence to benefit causes from the U.S. military to nonprofit organizations that give money to schools.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No matter what your politics are, Colbert's "character" is someone you wouldn't want your kids to emulate. He 's arrogant and narrow-minded -- which is, of course, why he's funny in the first place. That said, the real Colbert shines through when the show does segments that support the troops, earn money for important causes, or call attention to worthwhile topics.

Violence

No violence to speak of, though the show covers current events, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sex

Witty banter sometimes vamps into sexual innuendo, and Colbert often hawks a made-up product, Formula 401, which consists of his own "DNA" (for those looking for sperm donors). Topical subjects, such as abortion and gay marriage, are often part of the discussion.

Language

Swearing ("crap," "bitch") pops up occassionally. More serious words are bleeped out, usually for comic effect.

Consumerism

The show plugs its own website at least once during each episode. Other products are shown if they've made the headlines. Colbert has made on-air pleas to companies like Apple to send him free goods (like a new iPad) and then praised them later; he's also had different segments of his show sponsored (like when Doritos sponsored his run for the presidency in 2008) -- although it's ostensibly meant to mock product placement, it results in some pretty nice plugs for the companies involved.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some references to drinking and smoking, and Colbert has done both on camera -- usually as the punchline to some kind of joke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this news satire pokes fun at conservative political viewpoints, borrowing much of its in-your-face style (and many of its patriotic graphics) from more serious Fox News programs like The O'Reilly Factor. The show's self-important host, Stephen Colbert (played by comedian Stephen Colbert), thumbs his nose at political correctness and generally abhors anything with the slightest scent of liberalism. He's also known for openly criticizing his guests and sharing passionately misguided opinions, most of which lead to absurd conclusions. (For example, while speaking out about the dangers of Mother's Day, he says with deadpan sincerity: "If kids want to do something nice for their mother, that's fine. But for me to join in, it is incest. And it is wrong.")

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytlilly April 9, 2008

Hilarious

This is the greatest tv show of all time. It is a very funny and highly educational political/social satire that all teens and adults should watch. There is m... Continue reading
Adult Written byDisneyFan April 9, 2008

Funny and Intelligent

My 11 year old loves watching this show with me and his dad. Yes, sometimes the banter goes over his head, but if he doesn't understand something, he asks... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 19, 2011

Very awesome show.

Aahh Stephen Colbert never fails to make me laugh. I think plenty of kids would get the material, and the simple delivery of the news makes it easy to understan... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old August 8, 2011

What's the story?

Launched in 2005 as a comic foil to its parent program, The Daily Show, THE COLBERT REPORT (pronounced "col-BEAR re-PORE") seeks to capitalize on the growing popularity of talking-head political shows that seem to rely more on their hosts' larger-than-life personas than on meaningful news analysis. On the show, Colbert plays, well ... Stephen Colbert, a God-fearing, patriotic American who's not afraid to tangle with the truth. His political leanings are conservative, and he hates the liberal media something awful.

Is it any good?

With its shrewd writing and spot-on deliveries of deadpan one-liners, the show is a wickedly smart weenie-roast of politics, ego, and American patriotism gone awry. But Colbert's passionate opinions could be misinterpreted by young viewers who don't get the joke. Uncomfortable with America's increasing diversity? Colbert has a solution: "America should be like a Lunchable, divided into sanitary compartments of like-minded citizens." Tired of feeling your religion is under attack? Take comfort in Colbert's words: "I say there's nothing wrong with having God as a co-pilot, commander in chief, and secretary of defense."

Bottom line? The Colbert Report is a show that could be great for older teens, forcing them to think about current events and the relationship between media and politics. But those who are more interested in the state of their cell phone minutes than the state of the union might not quite be ready to join in the fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways in which various news talk shows have influenced the way Americans gather information. Are talking-head TV personalities like Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann journalists, or merely talk show hosts?

  • To what extent is the line between journalist and talk show host blurring in the modern media? (For example, could one person's opinion easily be misconstrued as fact?)

  • Is the mainstream news media truly "liberal"? And if it is, is Fox News truly "fair and balanced," or does it tip the scale toward "conservative"?

  • Are self-proclaimed "fake news" shows like this one a good substitute for the real thing?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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