Smash Your TV and Have Adventures: An Oral History of ‘Wonder Showzen’

The warning first aired late on a Friday night, accompanied by an ominous drone and the sound of faint screams: “Wonder Showzen,” it read, “contains offensive, despicable content that is too controversial and too awesome for actual children. The stark, ugly, profound truths Wonder Showzen exposes may be soul crushing to the weak of spirit. ” That dire heads-up turned out to be a bit of an understatement. When Wonder Showzen debuted 15 years ago, it was unlike anything that had been on TV before. Influenced as much by Sesame Street as it was by Noam Chomsky, the short-lived MTV2 series was a visually jolting, politically pungent faux kids’ show featuring puppets, man-on-the-street interviews, animated segments, and kiddie-voiced “documentaries. ” Throughout two hilariously stark seasons, the show exposed ugly, profound truths about sexism, racism, capitalism, and organized religion—sometimes all in the same episode.

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