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 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 aspects of reality shows this series is making fun of. Is it just the shows themselves, or also the 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?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love quirky characters
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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