The Substitute

Common Sense Media says

High school game show mixes education and entertainment.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Students are required to know academic material as well as pop culture trivia. Most kids are good sports.

Positive role models

Kids have different academic and intellectual skills. The students are from various racial/multicultural backgrounds.


Students occasionally try to stare each other down during the quizzing, but it's all in good fun.


Subtle, humorous sexual talk; for example, a reference to looking under someone's skirt and seeing "action."


Words like "ass" and "hell" are occasionally audible.


Celebs like Tom Cruise and Katy Perry, songs like "I Kissed a Girl," and films like Avatar are just some of the many pop culture references highlighted here.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some subtle, non-specific references to drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this fun, teen-friendly reality game show requires high school students to know academic information as well as pop culture details. There are a few iffy words ("ass," "hell") and some subtle, joking references to drinking and sex that will go over the head of very young viewers.

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What's the story?

THE SUBSTITUTE is a unique reality game show in which high school students have a chance to win cash for college. Twenty unsuspecting students arrive for a normal class day, only to discover that their substitute teacher, host Jon Gabrus, is leading them in a trivia game that can earn them cash and prizes. The students face off in rounds with titles like, \"Things You Should Know,\" \"Things You Do Know,\" and \"Things You Can Do,\" which require them to answer educational and pop culture trivia questions. Extra-credit questions let them complete for prizes like TVs, computers, and free lunches. The student who successfully makes it through all three rounds must face another student chosen by the group for $5,000. If she wins the final round, she gets to keep the cash for college. If not, the class divides the cash.

Is it any good?


While the idea of answering trivia questions for cash and prizes is nothing new, what makes this show unique is the fact that it takes place in a real classroom. As such, the questions asked require knowledge of scholastic information as well as music, celebrities, and other things that most teens find interesting and/or exciting.

Aside from some occasional iffy words and mild sexual references, the show is pretty family friendly. It may also serve as a reminder to kids that paying attention in school can often pay off in ways that they least expect.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to have your class suddenly become a game show competition. Do you think the students on this show are really surprised? Or do you think that this show is designed to look more realistic than it actually is

  • Why are game shows entertaining?

TV details

Cast:Jon Gabrus
Genre:Game Shows
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Substitute was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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