Total Drama Island



Clever cartoon reality show spoof OK for older tweens.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

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

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.


Mild innuendo and "I'd like a bunk under her"-style jokes.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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 some mild innuendo, characters can be rude to each other, and, of course, they're often made to suffer indignities and ridiculously difficult and dangerous "challenges." But there's little that's blatantly iffy beyond occasional fart jokes.

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Christian Potenza, Drew Nelson, Megan Fahlenbock
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Kids' Animation
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

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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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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, Heather's shirt gets torn off and Harold expresses his interest with "Booooobies". Not appropriate for children at all. What's this show teaching kids? That sex-insults are alright? It could be more subtle. This series was on a few years ago(I was about 17? 18? Now nearly 23), and while it's a decent show to watch when you're bored, it's definitely not for children. My opinion has not changed since then. If you want to air this, it should be later at night , way-early in the day, and NOT during the summer, when people under 18 are more likely to see it. There are very few good role models in this show, and that IS leaving out style, clique and genre. While (If I remember correctly) there is some drinking involved, they don't specify what it I'm not marking that off. I'm highly surprised they allowed this back on Cartoon Network, and even more surprised with the time slot. Did I mention that one of the characters is extremely sexist?
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
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.
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. Seriously, to get after this show and say it sucks because it's not "age-appropriate" is like giving a horror movie a negative review for being scary. You're basically criticizing the show for doing its job! This along with every show made by them (6teen, Total Drama Action and Stoked) are not intended for kids. They were made specifically for teens/adults. If you actually let your kid watch this just because it's animated and was licensed by cartoon network, you only have yourself to blame. Obviously, you ignored the rating the show was given and did no research on it whatsoever, so it's partly your fault your kid was exposed to it. With that said, Cartoon Network executives did not make this show. It was made here in Canada and is shown on prime time here, clearly proving that it wasn't intended for kids. So if you gotta hate on the show, get after what really matters, like the humor or the characters, not whether it's appropriate for kids or not, otherwise you're hating on it for the wrong reasons.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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