Top Gear

 
(i)

 

High-octane fun for car enthusiasts and newbies.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence

A few out-of-control speed tests and some mild crashes, but no injuries.

Sex

No outright sexual content, but the hosts do like to draw similes between cars' features and sexual terms (about a small pink car: "It looks just like a scrotum," for example).

Language

Occasional mild expletives like "damn."

Consumerism

Auto makers are referenced as the cars are reviewed.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One host occasionally refers to his nicotine addiction and the behind-the-wheel thrills he now uses as substitutes for cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this one-of-a-kind British car show -- which will entertain auto enthusiasts with its hilarious blend of fact and comedy -- is pretty clean overall. "Damn" is about as strong as the language gets, and while there's no outright sexual or drinking content, one host talks about his former cigarette habit, and the guys' habit of drawing comparisons between cars' appearance and sexual/body part terms (comparing a small pink car to a scrotum, for example) is sure to make older tweens giggle. The hosts put cars through an array of stunts, some of which result in (injury-free) crashes.

What's the story?

This Emmy-winning British series is hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, who are all up to speed on the latest and (supposedly) greatest models in the automotive world. From the Swedish speedster Koenigsegg to the more modest Chevrolet compact, the trio puts an array of autos to their unique brand of road tests to gauge whether the cars stand up to the manufacturers' claims. Besides evaluating standard features like top speed and shapely design, they also rate the "coolness" factor of attributes like flashy dashboard buttons, cushy seats, and noise reduction. The guys then turn their full attention to staging car stunts, goofing around with celebrity guests, and working up their own homemade "improvements" to existing auto designs.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The sky's the limit for the three hosts, who put an entertaining spin on the standard auto show with their creative approach and top it off with enough wit and comedy to ensure that the entire package is entertaining for car amateurs and enthusiasts alike. In recent episodes, they've welded their way to the world's first convertible minivan, played soccer behind the wheel, and had stars like Ewan McGregor, Gordon Ramsay, and Ray Winstone add their names to a prestigious list of celebrity speedsters willing to have a go at the TOP GEAR time-trial challenge.

Top Gear's greatest selling point is its ability to entertain both car experts and novices. Even viewers who don't know a taillight from a gas cap will enjoy the hosts' wit and wisdom -- and the crazy lengths they go to to test their subjects' limits. Just be sure to brush up on your math skills before tuning in so you can convert kilometers to miles and pounds to dollars (if you're interested in the cars' specs, that is). Translation skills are also helpful in case you find yourself measuring your foot in confusion when they discuss "boot" space (that's the trunk for us Yanks).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether shows like this are educational. Does this show teach viewers anything? What, and how? Do you find the information credible? Does the series' fun nature in any way detract from how seriously you take what the hosts say? Families can also discuss road safety and responsible-driving guidelines, as well as the popularity of cars in our society. What do cars say about our lifestyle and financial status? Why do we value car ownership so much? What freedoms do cars give us? Tweens: What types of cars do you like? Why?

TV details

Cast:James May, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond
Network:BBC America
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Cars and trucks
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Top Gear was written by

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Quality

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; OK 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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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old September 10, 2010
 

Fine.

I would say it's okay. I'm not really a car fan, and i think it's boring, just talking about cars.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 11 and 18 year old Written byresponsibleadult1 August 14, 2014
 

totally innapropriater

constant sexual references and inappropriate language e.g. c*ck d*ck p**sy f*ck s*it and others not for children under age 14
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old February 25, 2011
 

British TV Rules Supreme!

Love this show sooooo much!
What other families should know
Too much swearing

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