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 sketch comedy show is not meant for kids. It more than earns its TV-MA rating with its frequent use of profanity and its graphic sexual content (including a close-up of a real-life vagina animated to look like it's talking). The show makes a concerted effort to be politically incorrect and, as a result, uses lots of stereotypes and other less-than-positive comedic devices -- which, although they're meant to underscore present-day political and social issues, lose their impact when sketches fall flat and shock rather than amuse.
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What's the story?
A half-hour sketch comedy show created and produced by Damon Wayans, THE UNDERGROUND ("Da Uh!" for short) is reminiscent of the groundbreaking 1990s hit In Living Color -- which was created by Damon's older brother, Keenan Ivory Wayans -- only it's half as long and at least twice as uncensored. Like In Living Color, The Underground intersperses a variety of envelope-pushing comedy skits with clips featuring street music and dance. The ensemble cast includes Aries Spears (MADtv) and Wayans' son, Damon Wayans, Jr. and the sketches range from poking fun at controversial political issues (including the war in Iraq and heightened airport security) to advertisements for genital-sporting pants. Many of the skits rely heavily on stereotyping as a significant source of humor.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, the prevalence of obscene language, nudity, and simulated sex acts (many of them extremely crude) in most sketches makes the show's political satire and social commentary difficult to appreciate. Plus, when it comes right down to it, a lot of the skits just aren't that funny, bad taste or no. As a result, anything positive that the show has to offer, including the celebration of urban culture, is undermined by its attempts to cross the lines of taste and purposely offend people of all walks of life simply because it can. It also makes the show a bad choice for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using stereotypes as a source of humor. Is it ever appropriate to use stereotypes? Where do you draw the line? Can people empower themselves by "reclaiming a stereotype" and making it their own? Families can also talk about taking humor too far. When does satire or parody become offensive? Urban culture, underground artists, and alternative dance forms can also be discussed.