Wonder Showzen



Pitch-black puppet satire; no kids allowed!
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Subversive, with no positive role models (which is the show's intent). Slavery, religion, segregation, and eating disorders are just a few of the topics that are regularly mocked. Children accost adults on the street to ask controversial questions; a puppet pesters passers-by and tries to make them angry; characters battle God; a child is accused of being a baby killer; farting and other bodily functions run rampant.


Letter- and number-shaped puppets meant to represent Arabs and Jewish people fight each other; other miscellaneous cartoon violence.


Puppet characters have enthusiastic sex; Mother Nature (also a puppet) undergoes a sex change operation that explicitly shows her puppet privates.


Lots of "bitch," "ass," and the like. The worst cursing is bleeped. An expletive-prone character called "Potty Mouth" is featured in occasional short cartoon segments.


Episodes are "brought to you by" characters and fake products that tie into each week's theme.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Puppet characters drink after falling into a shame spiral; others discover pure "liquid imagination" and get high on it.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this darkly hilarious MTV2 series is absolutely not meant for children. A disclaimer before the show says, among other things, that "If you allow a child to watch this show, you are a bad parent or guardian." It's tongue-in-cheek, but accurate. The main characters look like Sesame Street-style puppets, but instead of education, they deal with sex changes, depression, drug use, politics, casual sex, and more. Other segments include graphic cartoons, a puppet who harasses strangers, and kid "reporters" who conduct confrontational interviews with adults (in one, a child's impersonation of the life of an elderly racetrack regular is "Gamble, gamble, gamble, die"). It's offensive, tasteless, and hysterical -- if you're a grown-up who likes your humor pitch-black.

What's the story?

WONDER SHOWZEN is peopled by fuzzy puppets who look like Sesame Street characters, but these puppets are strictly for adults only. Storylines for Chauncey, Him, Wordsworth, Sthugar, and the gang (many characters are voiced by show creators Vernon Chatman and John Lee) have them engaging in casual hook-ups, hunting down God so they can do battle with him, and trying to stop Mother Nature's sex change. Meanwhile, puppet-on-the street Clarence pesters unsuspecting people mercilessly (\"Will you accept Jesus?\"), cartoon segments feature characters like the expletive-spewing Potty Mouth and a team of hobo \"superheroes,\" educational films mock old black-and-white tutorials, and innocent-looking children answer questions like \"What is heaven?\" with responses like \"I'll never know\" and \"That's where drunk daddies drive to.\" And then there are the \"Beat Kids\" -- a rotating group of kid reporters who try to get a rise out of dazed grown-ups by peppering them with provocative questions.

Is it any good?


Wonder Showzen is the kind of series that makes viewers gasp as often as it makes them laugh. Whenever you think the show has gone as far as it can go, Chatman and Lee will dream up something even more audacious -- as they did in the first season's "Patience" episode. After viewers were subjected to an excruciatingly slow first 15 minutes, the entire thing ran backward, only to be followed by another version of the show in super-fast-forward mode.

For adults who appreciate cynical, pitch-black satire, Wonder Showzen is a dream come true. But younger children will be confused and upset by the things coming out of the furry, brightly colored puppets' mouths, and even some older teens may not be able to place the show's humor in the right context. It's absolutely a good idea to preview each episode before sharing it with children of any age -- and if you decide to keep it to yourself, enjoy ... and be sure to delete it from the TiVo when you're done.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes this show funny. Can envelope-pushing satire ever accomplish more than typical TV laughs? Does anything in the show shock you, as well as make you laugh? Why? Does mixing edgy content with innocent-looking puppets make it even more subversive? Is it OK for the producers to involve kids in the show? Do you think the kids know what they're saying -- or why it's funny?

TV details

Cast:Alyson Levy, John Lee, Vernon Chatman
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Wonder Showzen was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted 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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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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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bysollaa April 23, 2015

Brutally Honest

This show is hard to review. Calling it satire is missing the point. It is a frank and honest, but extremely sarcastic examination of modern life, through the lens of a kid's show. Wonder Showzen is what Sesame Street would be like if it actually taught children the harsh realities of modern life. The problem is that the lessons are too harsh for kids. Despite the great messages, such as "you should go out and have your own adventures instead of watching TV" and "you should make life better for yourself and others." But it also includes messages like "You will hate your job but have to sit there for half your life" and "You will probably make life worse for yourself and everyone around you." True, and even most adults aren't ready to face those facts. There is casual drug use and sex, and it is brutal about showing the consequences. Again, a "good" message delivered too honestly for children.
Kid, 12 years old April 29, 2011

Racist show

Never seen it and I never will, but this sounds a terrible program! Not only is the content bad, but the show is also racist. It makes fun of people with religions and those with different races. It also makes fun of the people with disabilities (e.g Down Syndrome and Autism). It is NOT funny.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old December 6, 2010

This show owns Sesame Street!

This show is really funny, as this is my kind of humor. And it's not really as bad as they make it seem on the DVD covers and the disclaimer. Too bad there was only two seasons. And I am NOT brain dead.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism


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