The Role of Satire in Plays, Television and Movies

April 28, 2015  |  Guest Writers

[Disclaimer: Content Provided by Guest Writer from SocialMonsters]

Satire has been used for thousands of years to call attention to and ridicule the questionable beliefs of others. For example, Aesop used satire in his fables and authors such as Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift used their stories to humorously expose a variety of foibles, such as racism and poverty.


The goal of satire is to comment on or to try to change some aspect of society that the author does not agree with. Satire also can take difficult topics and make them more relatable or understandable. Because it relies on humor to get its point across, satire typically uses exaggeration as part of the message. Today, satire can be found in a variety of plays, television shows and movies.

On Stage: “The Book of Mormon”

Since it first hit the stage, Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical “The Book of Mormon” has been a hit with audiences. Even several years later, tickets need to be purchased well ahead of time because they sell out so quickly. And, a lot of its success has to do with its humorous and satirical nature.

A common misconception is that the play bashes the Mormon religion. While it is definitely satirical in nature, Parker and Stone have a clear affection for Mormons. The play merely relies on over-the-top humor to make the point that it doesn’t matter what someone believes, as long as he or she is a good person. In fact, Mormon leaders have used the popularity of the play to advance their own message, telling people in ads “You’ve seen the show — now read the book.”

On TV: “Family Guy”

One example of a popular television show that effectively uses satire to get sometimes difficult points across is “Family Guy.” The animated show created by Seth MacFarlane pokes fun at a variety of topics and stereotypes, which aims to make people think about these issues without being overly critical. For example, one of the show’s recurring characters, Glenn Quagmire, is portrayed as an over-eager, sex-crazed guy, but in reality MacFarlane may be commenting on the declining lack of sexual morals in society. Many other characters and story lines in the show have focused on everything from politics, religion, terrorism, domestic abuse and drugs.

On the Big Screen: “Heathers”

At first blush, the 1988 movie “Heathers” may seem like a dark comedy that tells the story of girl who thinks about killing three nasty girls, all named Heather. But rather, the movie offers a satirical look at the often difficult and angst-filled topic of popularity as well as stereotypes such as high school cliques and the difficulties of high school. Many people identify with the regular girl’s attempts to fit in with the three Heathers and enjoy the exaggerated way in which the filmmaker deals with the stereotype of the American high school.

No matter what medium it’s in, satire is a useful tool for approaching sensitive subjects. The exaggerations and jokes give people a way to address the topics without it getting too heated.

About the author

I am a Kuwaiti Apple and gadget girl freak, who gets bored of her blog layouts so much that I change them like I crazy. Currently I work in a newspaper and if you don't see me around I'm being sucked into my job reviewing TV Shows and APPS! This is my space where I vent and release everything, welcome to it.