TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Unplugged TV Poster Image
Acoustic concert series has some mature stuff.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Features male and female musicians from all walks of life who perform music from a variety of genres. Song lyric content varies widely depending on the artist; some songs may deal with moody and/or depressive themes.


Some lyrics include mild references to violence or violent acts.


Some lyrics include references to sex and intimate relationships.


Some lyrics include some strong language like "damn" and "hell."


The series is a promotional vehicle for the performers' music. MTV has released many tie-in CDs and DVDs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some lyrics include occasional references to drug use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this series showcases acoustic performances by musical artists of all genres and ages, from legends like Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton to more recent artists like Jay-Z and Korn. Many of the shows are completely tame, but some acts perform songs that include strong language ("damn," "hell"), sexual innuendo, and mild references to drugs and violence. Others may veer into moody, depressive content. The series also functions as a vehicle for promoting new albums and up-and-coming performers.

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What's the story?

UNPLUGGED is an acoustic live performance series starring many of the biggest and brightest stars in the music biz. The show shines the spotlight on popular and up-and-coming bands and solo musicians as they reinterpret their music in an intimate setting without the electric amplified instruments that are normally part of their acts. In each installment, artists like KISS, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Joss Stone, and Eric Clapton perform both old favorites and new material.

Is it any good?

Created in 1989, Unplugged offers a fresh way to watch famous musicians perform without the background dancers and pyrotechnics you might expect to see at a regular concert venue or in a music video. But these more straightforward musical presentations are also used as promotional devices; episodes are often broadcast to coincide with a new album release (plus, MTV has put out a lot of tie-in CDs and DVDs over the years).

Still, this entertaining series does more than sell music to potential buyers. It allows artists to express their genuine passion for music through the simplicity of their performance. And it's the honesty behind these presentations that makes the series worth watching.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how music videos have impacted the music industry as a whole. Are music videos really like commercials? Can musicians be famous today without launching music videos as well as the songs themselves? Families can also talk about different kinds of musical performances. Is it more fun to hear music performed with electric instruments, or are acoustic versions better? Why or why not?

TV details

  • Premiere date: November 1, 1989
  • Networks: MTV, MTV2, VH1
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

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