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Total Drama Island

TV review by
KJ Dell Antonia, Common Sense Media
Total Drama Island TV Poster Image
Cartoon reality show spoof has stereotypes, sexy stuff.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 70 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 213 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's all meant to be taken as satire, but there's plenty of iffy behavior on display -- from mocking positive values to rudeness to poor sportsmanship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teen contestants can't trust their host or one another, are rude to one another, compete in unsportsmanlike ways, etc. -- but then, that's exactly the kind of behavior being satirized here. The characters are all pretty stereotypical (again, it's part of the humor).


Most "violence" comes in the form of dangerous challenges forced on teen contestants by the supposed adult in charge, although characters do threaten one another, grab one another, and throw one another out of doors, etc. -- never with any ill affect. No weapons.


Lots of innuendo, especially for a show aimed at tweens. Comments about bodies are frequent and "I'd like a bunk under her"-style jokes mirror the shows it's satirizing, but are edgier in this context. One episode shows a female character losing her bikini top briefly. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this animated series is meant for kids old enough to watch -- and appreciate -- a satire of reality shows like Survivor; those too young to get the joke likely won't find it very funny. There's a lot of sexual innuendo, especially in later seasons; characters hook up and one briefly loses her bikini top. Characters can be rude to each other, and, of course, they're often made to suffer indignities and ridiculously difficult and dangerous "challenges." It's on the edgy side for a kids' series, but older tweens and teens will enjoy what might be their first taste of satire. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynduns July 11, 2010

I love this show. Now that I got that out of the way, here's what people need to realize

I swear, every single negative review I see for this show is from some oversensitive parent/child who assumes that this show is intended for children. Seriousl... Continue reading
Adult Written byRedXJT May 21, 2012

Inappropriate for under 18.

In the very first episode, Heather tells Duncan to "Get bent" which virtually means 'get laid'-- 'go have sex'. In a later episode... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylispartans August 13, 2009

fine for eight and up

this show is fine. i have no problem with it. do you people even know what kids say in school? even at age nine.
Teen, 14 years old Written byaubrigirl821 August 4, 2011

How this show is ment to be viewed

This show was never ment for little kids in first place, it comes on late at night and if you dont want your kids watching this show, why are they up at 10 o cl... Continue reading

What's the story?

TOTAL DRAMA ISLAND is a cartoon satire of reality shows like Survivor. The intentionally one-dimensional teen characters are thrown together in a summer camp setting, then broken up into teams and presented with challenges by their host. At the end of most episodes, someone's voted out and sent home.

Is it any good?

The best thing about Total Drama Island is that its knowing wink encompasses everyone -- viewers and characters alike. Many characters know that they're there to play their stereotypical roles (geek, tough kid, big sassy African-American girl, etc.), and they do so with one eye on the camera. The joke isn't just on reality shows -- it's on reality shows as they've become now, populated with students of the genre who are all trying to game the system. The show's theme song, "I Wanna Be Famous," says it all.

For all its satiric qualities, Total Drama Island actually manages to pull viewers in. There's a contest at the core, and kids who tune in for the spoof may find themselves caught up in finding out which character will manage to survive to the end. Overall, it's an enjoyable, smart show for anyone old enough to watch "real" reality TV.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what parts of reality shows this series is making fun of. Is it just the shows themselves, or also they way they're cast and created?

  • The characters are purposely presented as one-dimensional stereotypes -- because that's what producers of real reality shows often do to people through judicious editing. If someone only filmed and showed certain moments in your day, could they make you look mean or whiny? Why would someone want to focus on those parts of your character for a reality show?

TV details

For kids who love quirky characters

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