A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this adult-oriented comedy series revolves around the fictionalized life of a controversial comedienne. She jokes about race, sexuality, disability, religion, sex, excrement, and more -- nothing is off limits. Episodes include scenes of implied masturbation, pooping in public, driving while intoxicated, and one particularly unsettling scene of Silverman having sex with "Black God."
What's the story?
In THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, the controversial comedienne plays a fictionalized version of herself who lives in Los Angeles, scrounges money from her sister, and hangs out with her gay neighbors. Just as Curb Your Enthusiasm exaggerates the real life of star Larry David, Silverman also liberally embroiders the truth, engineering exploits in which Silverman's biting, outrageous, and often disturbing humor can shine.
Is it any good?
Silverman is a skilled comic actress and an intelligent social critic, but her humor is known for its political incorrectness and lack of taboos. She frequently jokes about race, disability, religion, sex, and poop; in her stand-up routines, she even takes on previously untouchable subjects like 9/11, Martin Luther King, Jr., and rape. Silverman's trademark persona is self-absorbed and cutesy. She often speaks in a sing-songy voice, with her sweet demeanor highlighting the depravity of her jokes. Sometimes she even breaks into song, mocking the earnestness of musical ballads and MTV videos.
Silverman's commentary on race is especially incisive -- and often disconcerting in its ability to point out social problems. For example, at the end of one wild episode in which Silverman crashes her car into a playground after drinking cough medicine and later winds up in jail, she talks about the lessons she's learned, including: "Elderly black women are wise beyond their years, but younger black women are prostitutes." Like Dave Chappelle's smart and edgy brand of comedy, Silverman's material can very easily be taken the wrong way. Young folks attracted to her scatological humor may not understand that she's joking when she says, "Whether you're gay, bisexual, it doesn't matter, because at the end of the day, they're both gross." Parents may want to preview the show before allowing even mature teens to watch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cultural taboos. What subjects are off limits to comedians? Who's responsible for deciding when "the line" is crossed? Are certain topics always going to be "forbidden," or do things change over time? What's the purpose of politically or socially oriented humor? What happens when you hear a joke about something that makes you uncomfortable? Do you think Silverman is taking things too far? Are her jokes simply for shock value, or do they have something important to say?