The Who Was? Show

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Who Was? Show TV Poster Image
 Popular with kidsParents recommend
Fun books-inspired show intros kids to historical figures.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 41 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 15 reviews

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We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Two historical figures in each episode: basic facts like when and where they lived, how outside forces affected their lives and inspired their work, how their legacy affected people after their time. But show's focus often strays from educational content to humor, so it's less a teaching tool and more an entertaining watch with some learning potential.


Positive Messages

Makes history, historical figures intriguing to kids through sketch comedy and satirical presentation. There's less educational content than funny bits, but show can inspire viewers' curiosity to know more about the people featured. Characters are visually and linguistically exaggerated in keeping with caricature style of the books and the show's overall humor. Some unpleasant aspects of history (e.g., discrimination) inspire jokes and are treated in a mostly lighthearted way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Who Was? subjects are selected for their impact on human history in fields like social equality, science, medicine, sports, etc. Their lives can be used as models of courage, justice, ingenuity, perseverance, and devotion to freedom for all people.


Violence & Scariness

Physical comedy like falls, hair catching on fire, explosions, and the like, but no injuries.


Sexy Stuff

Inspired by a series of biographical books for children.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Who Was? Show is a sketch comedy series that features a cast of teens and the historical subjects of the popular Who Was? books. While it's not chock-full of classroom-quality educational content, the show makes the idea of learning history fun through jokes, skits, silly songs, satire, and the caricature-style animation readers will recognize from the books themselves. Expect some bathroom humor that kids will find hilarious (an entire sketch on experimenting with ways to make farts smell better, for instance), and some lighthearted references to unpleasant historical truths like racial discrimination and martyrdom. If your kids haven't read the books, this series is an excellent way to encourage them to check them out.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10, 12, and 16-year-old Written byNancy B. June 1, 2018

I've never written a review here...

....but this time I felt compelled to.
I've come to CommonSense Media before allowing my kids to see TV, movies, etc for years. It's always been a... Continue reading
Parent of a 6 and 9-year-old Written bybnkly July 12, 2018

Questionable history makes content difficult to recommend

I'm a homeschooling dad always on the lookout for interesting ways to educate. I grew up with Schoolhouse Rock and The Letter People, so I know injecting s... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMaddybrown1 January 11, 2021

Why, just why

Why are people making such a big deal out of this? This show is literally social studies on Netflix... don't listen to the people who say it is humorous an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bywho_was_show_fan June 20, 2020

Would Definitely Recommend!!!

I think that this show is great! There are a lot of jokes, songs, and dances, but why is that so bad for a kids show? You learn a lot of fun facts about history... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE WHO WAS? SHOW is a sketch comedy series inspired by the biographical Who Was? books for kids and tweens. Each episode brings to life two historical figures seemingly unrelated to each other and draws comparisons between their stories and legacies. The young cast members use skits, jokes, songs, improv comedy, and animation to create a show within a show, all in spite of clueless input from their well-meaning but dim producer, Ron (Andrew Daly).

Is it any good?

With unexpected pairings like William Shakespeare and King Tut, Sacagawea and Blackbeard, and Pablo Picasso and The Wright Brothers, this series introduces historical figures and events in a fun and memorable way. You may have to dig into their pasts to find similarities between the subjects, but the show builds conceptual themes that relate to them and then has fun with all the many ways they're different from each other. In other words, The Who Was? Show dusts off seemingly dull players and topics from the past and makes them and their stories intriguing to today's kids.

Beyond the basics of when and where the subjects lived and what their important contributions to history were, there's not a lot of factual information to be had in this lighthearted show. It's highly entertaining, especially in parts that drop these vintage characters among modern trends like technology and dance parties, and its use of satire and hyperbole garner deserved enjoyment. Even so, The Who Was? Show can inspire curiosity about history and its players in a unique way that grade-schoolers will like.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the work of the historical figures featured in The Who Was? Show continues to impact the world today. How different would our lives be without their contributions? Do you think they realized the full impact of their work at the time?

  • What data do historians use to piece together the details of events from the past? How much of history is conjecture? What physical evidence exists to support biographical accounts of the subjects of this episode in particular?

  • What character strengths do you see in the historical figures portrayed in this series? Are you curious about some of them? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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