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 Whose Line Is It Anyway? is an improvisational comedy series whose cast members frequently use sexual innuendo, body part references, racial and gender stereotyping, and physical attributes like weight, hair loss, and stature for jokes. Many of the games encourage physical interplay, so there are many instances of suggestive positions that get laughs as well. Language is also a concern, with "f--k" and "s--t" bleeped, but lighter fare like "hell" and "damn" audible. Because it's unscripted, there's no telling what's around the corner in any of the improv games, and some of the content is too mature for tweens. The series has been through two American incarnations (following the British original from the '90s), with progressively looser standards of what's acceptable content. The bottom line? This hilarious show is well worth your time, but you'll want to screen each episode's subject matter if you're hoping to watch with your tweens.
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What's the story?
WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? is a long-running improv comedy series that originated in Britain before being imported to the U.S. for a makeover and running for eight years with host Drew Carey. The most recent version features Aisha Tyler at the helm. The show features a cast of four comedians who play improv games like "Props," "Scenes From a Hat," "Party Quirks," "Duet," and "Sideways Scene," usually from thematic suggestions from the live studio audience and occasionally involving a few lucky participants. Longtime cast members Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady are joined by a rotating line-up of guest performers in the latest version of the series.
Is it any good?
Riotously funny and unpredictable at every turn, Whose Line Is It Anyway? continuously sets new standards for comedy. Whether you're watching 20-year-old British episodes or brand-new American ones, the off-the-cuff laughs are guaranteed to amuse. There's no faking the brilliance of these performers, and because the games and set-ups change each episode, there's nothing redundant about the content.
Not surprisingly, though, this kind of entertainment often comes at the cost of some pretty mature subject matter, and the mostly male cast has a lot of fun working in allusions to penis and breast size, sexual orientation, and a host of other topics that will raise some eyebrows, not to mention the implications of games that put the performers in compromising physical positions. Exercise caution with regard to your tweens, but for older teens and other adults, it's hard to beat this laugh-out-loud classic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issue of what stretches the boundaries of comedy. When is a joke taken too far? Why is sexual comedy so enticing to the actors -- and the audience?
Is stereotyping a necessary evil in comedy? Where is the line between funny and hurtful, especially when someone is the subject of impersonation?
What accounts for a show's sustainability? Does this series' style have a longer lifespan than the average sitcom does? If so, why? How are the comedians able to keep the jokes so fresh?
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