The Gong Show

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
The Gong Show TV Poster Image
'70s talent show reboot highlights the wacky and weird.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The humor can be a bit mean-spirited at times (performers the judges don't like are dismissed by the hitting of a giant gong, after all), but in general even some of the most bizarre acts are praised for their originality.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A lot of the contestants show perseverance and self-confidence. Whether that's a good or bad thing is debatable.


Younger kids may be creeped out by some of the performers, such as the growling, ukulele-playing man in skull face paint who sings about kidnapping and eating children.


Nothing super explicit, but the host frequently makes suggestive comments and jokes -- for example, "It's not the size of the pianist, it's how you play his instrument."


"Damn," "hell," nothing extreme.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The judges are given cigars during one act; the host's bottle of booze is sometimes visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Gong Show is a revamped version of the 1970s variety show competition of the same name. Like its predecessor, the acts vary wildly in quality and include performers of all kinds: singers, dancers, magicians, jump-ropers, and speed-talkers, to name only a few. The focus is definitely on the offbeat and bizarre. There's a lot of sexual innuendo -- references to S&M and testicles abound -- and there are some mentions of drugs and alcohol, as when the host refers to himself as being "high." Some acts could be a bit spooky for younger or squeamish kids, like the girl who plays harmonica while holding a live tarantula inside her mouth.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychrisman28 July 10, 2017

as stupid as it looked

ok I am sorry if your a fan of this show but I just couldn't stand it I thought the previews looked very very stupid but decided to go against my better... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byYougotitnow2 June 9, 2020

Aw Heck nah

This garbage must not be watched.

What's the story?

The 1970s version of The Gong Show hosted by Chuck Barris was notorious for featuring an outlandish and ridiculous lineup of performers, and this reboot from executive producer Will Arnett carries on that tradition. A rotating panel of celebrity judges (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Elizabeth Banks are among those featured) rate the acts on a scale of 1 to 10, but if the performance is so bad they just can't bear it, they'll grab a giant mallet and hit the gong to bring things to a merciful end. At the end of each episode, the highest-rated performer takes home a check for $2,000.17 and a golden gong trophy. The festivities are hosted by "British comedy legend" Tommy Maitland -- who is actually a heavily made up, unrecognizable Mike Myers (a fact that is never acknowledged).

Is it any good?

If your favorite part of the old American Idol series was the early audition episodes where the judges make fun of the delusional, questionably-talented hopefuls, this show may be right up your alley. The primary function of these acts isn't that they're marketable (or even palatable), it's that they're memorably weird. The Gong Show isn't where you'll see a sincere young girl strumming an acoustic guitar and belting out a self-penned ballad to an appreciative audience. This is, however, one of the only places you are likely to see a married couple who have developed an entire acrobatic act centered on spitting chewed-up bananas into each other's mouths.

Whether or not you dig the show's schtick is dependent upon your tolerance level for lowbrow humor and cheesy performances. Wacky is the name of the game, right down to the choice of host: comedic actor Mike Myers (Austin Powers, Shrek), who appears uncredited in the guise of British comedy star "Tommy Maitland," whose ribald sense of humor and manic energy are downright Benny Hill-esque. We've seen Myers do this type of thing before -- calling people "cheeky monkeys" is his go-to -- but it's oddly fitting for this zany throwback of a show. The overall ridiculousness wears thin at times, but viewers looking to see something different will definitely hit pay dirt.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether or not they think the performers on The Gong Show have actual talent. How might a singer from this show fare on a different talent competition, such as American Idol or The Voice?

  • Does the way the judges critique the performers seem sincere or helpful? What makes criticism constructive versus mean?

  • If you had to appear on The Gong Show, what would your talent be?

TV details

  • Premiere date: June 22, 2017
  • Cast: Mike Myers
  • Network: ABC
  • Genre: Game Shows
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: September 26, 2020

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