The Larry Sanders Show

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Larry Sanders Show TV Poster Image
Dry late-show satire aims jokes, language at adults.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's not really a "message" kind of show, but there's a general sense of cynicism -- especially when it comes to Hollywood.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nothing makes Larry an inherently terrible role model, but he's no model citizen and can be selfish. For the most part, he's a decent albeit neurotic guy who's caught in the middle of daily shenanigans on set.


Sexual innuendo with occasional crass talk.


Unbleeped language includes "f--k" and "s--t," along with words like "ass," "damn," etc.


A few visible logos (like Coca-Cola) and some dropped brand names. Celebrities regularly guest star as fictionalized versions of themselves.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, occasional drunkenness.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this dryly satirical comedy airs with unbleeped swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t") and includes some sexual innuendo. There's also a bit of name-dropping -- both in terms of products and real-life celebrities -- and occasional social drinking that can lead to drunkenness.

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What's the story?

As the face of THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, neurotic late-night talk show host Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling) spends most of his time at the office dealing with his sharp-tongued producer (Rip Torn), catch-phrasing sidekick (Jeffrey Tambor), and a rotating line-up of celebrity guests. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff works behind the scenes to make sure the show goes on.

Is it any good?

When The Larry Sanders Show was still airing on HBO in the 1990s, critics loved it for its whip-smart send-up of Hollywood's celebrity culture -- and the rotating celebrity guest stars' willingness to skewer themselves week after week. At the time, the series' mockumentary show-within-a-show format was also somewhat of a novelty that helped earn it a slew of coveted television awards and went on to inspire the look and feel of other TV comedies.

Today, of course, Larry Sanders feels more than a little dated -- not only because, well, it literally is -- but also because our collective culture of celebrity-worship is so much more intense than it used to be. (Not to mention the fact that some people might not even remember who Mimi Rogers is, let alone Susan Anton.) Still, for adult viewers who can appreciate the joke, it's a well-conceived classic that deserves a second look.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show's use of satire when it comes to celebrity. Is there any sort of message regarding the behind-the-scenes realities of fame?

  • How does the series' show-within-a-show format make it different from other comedies? What other shows has its format inspired since it first aired?

  • Why has the mockumentary approach to comedy become so popular? Does it allow writers and actors more freedom than traditional situation-comedies?

TV details

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