Total Request Live (TRL) TV Poster Image

Total Request Live (TRL)



The latest MTV generation screams its way through.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The stories told in some videos (adultery, drinking and using drugs, sexual activity) may not be actions/values you want your kid imitating.


Often lyrics will be violent; certain videos show images of fighting, killing, etc.


Videos can contain explicitly sexual dancing or feature scantily clad women; lyrics may have obvious sexual connotations.


Profanity in songs is bleeped, but most kids can fill in the blanks.


Movies are heavily promoted with celebrity interviews. Lyrics may reference name brand clothing and designers.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Bars/clubs are often shown in videos.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an hour-long live countdown of the 10 most popular music videos determined by phone calls and email votes from young fans. (Note: The countdown switched to online-only as of Nov. 2008.) Artists who have made it to the countdown can include those whom parents may consider controversial including 50 Cent, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Ludacris, and Eminem. Parents should watch out for images of sexuality, violence, and lyrics that may be inappropriate for their kids. Parents may want to watch the program with their kids on a few different occasions because the videos are always changing. This may help to better determine if the show is acceptable for their child to watch.

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What's the story?

Fans vote for their favorite video by phone or Internet. The top 10 contenders are aired during TOTAL REQUEST LIVE, a one-hour live broadcast complete with a live audience of fans cheering for their favorite singers. A myriad of hosts present the videos. When videos premiere, the artist is likely to make an appearance, be interviewed briefly, and occasionally perform. Various celebrities also appear on the show in order to promote their movies or projects.

Is it any good?


The video combination of pop music with dancing and sometimes sexual images has become candy to tween and teen viewers of MTV. Videos have ventured into a much more explicit, sex-driven territory -- even with young female artists. Parents may feel some of the material both lyrically and visually is inappropriate for a young audience. TRL is a snapshot of the music that is available and that is influencing kids. Watch with your kids if they insist on tuning in -- you'll find plenty of opportunities to talk to them about issues like sexism, the glamorizing of violence, and why some artists feel the need to push the envelope.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about alternative types of music. Why do certain artists make the cut and other do not? Are some videos popular just because they are shocking or feature half-naked women? Does this list of ten songs accurately represent today's music? Which songs would your child vote for?

TV details

Premiere date:September 14, 1998
Cast:Carson Daly
Genre:Music Videos
TV rating:TV-PG

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Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
Adult Written byjchurchill April 9, 2008

More dumb than anything else

The FIRST MTV generation should remember when music videos were a work of artistic output. Now that Viacom has taken over, MTV is all about commercialism. They've come a long way ... down ... since masterpieces such as Guns & Roses' fascinating and enigmatic video for "Don't You Cry Tonight" got regular, uninterrupted airplay. Today, music videos are now simply a background mechanism for the marketing. It is annoying to watch. While the videos play on TRL, badly written comments from viewers scroll across the bottom or an inset video of some kid yakking aimlessly about how great the band is gets in the way. If parents let their kids watch this stupid, brain-jarring, simpleton of a show, then they should also have them watch the Frontline episodes "The Way the Music Died" and "The Merchants of Cool". These two programs should give them a solid understanding of what kind of manipulation they are under while viewing the 21st century MTV, what their favorite stars went through to get there, and may even save them from the level of commercial ignorance that has infected a good number of their peers.