Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003– )

TV Series  |  TV-MA  |   |  Comedy, Documentary
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The comedy illusionist duo explore various topics and debunk what they consider misconceptions about them.

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Title: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003– )

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Nominated for 13 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Himself / ... (85 episodes, 2003-2010)
 Himself / ... (85 episodes, 2003-2010)


Using a combination of set ups, descriptions, rants and film of practitioners, Penn & Teller show the bullshit that's everywhere. The initial show covers mediums or Talkers to the Dead. Penn Jillette explains in the first program that while calling someone a liar or a con man is actionable, "bullshit" is safe. Each show has a topic such as Mediums, Feng Shui, Medical devices or Penis Enlargement. Using humor and experts, they debunk the bullshit. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They can smell it from miles away! See more »


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Release Date:

24 January 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Penn & Teller: BS!  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


The show was created to honor the spirit of master magician Harry Houdini, who devoted the latter part of his life to debunking some widely accepted (as he called it) "Humbug". The episode on profanity featured the title "Humbug" instead of "Bullshit!" See more »


Penn Jillette: [Penn's introduction to someone that doesn't agree with Penn & Teller's views on the show's subject] And then there's *this* asshole...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In episode 2.10 ("Profanity") the title sequence ends with the word "Humbug" superimposed on the usual "Bullshit!". See more »


Featured in MoonFaker: Carrying the Liar (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Iconoclasim at its finest: "Bullshit" is a must-see, fiercely mounted attack against shysters and media sacred cows
17 August 2005 | by ( – See all my reviews

*Reader Discretion Advised* Network: Showtime; Genre: Reality/Documentary; Content Rating: TV-MA (pervasive profanity, nudity and occasionally explicit sexual content); Available: DVD; Perspective: Contemporary (star range: 1 - 4);

Seasons Reviewed: 2+ seasons

Everybody knows of Harry Houdini as the world famous magician and escape artist, but not so many know that Houdini made a life's work of debunking the myths and mystic around scam artists and shysters of his day. Now, magicians, atheists and skeptics Penn Jillette and his partner Teller follow in the footsteps of their idol, in a Showtime series taking on modern day scam artists, hucksters and debunking the hell out of those myths that have perpetuated to the point of conventional wisdom.

As Penn describes in the opening episode the word "bullshit" (and all the other expletives freely used in this meaty only-on-Showtime series) is something of a non-litigious catch-all for "shysters" and "liars". That, and "nobody knew what 'humbug' meant". Each week Penn & Teller set their laser sites on an aspect of American culture that is believed as a matter of faith or has been perpetuated by the press and pop culture by those attempting to capitalize on the trusting and sometimes emotionally unstable public.

Some of it is easily laughed off as only believed by nuts ("End of the World" is hilarious), the more controversial episodes are things most people have come to accept such as second-hand smoke, recycling, bottled water and romantic love. Some of it might seem like harmless fun until P&T get into the grit of it. That when talking to the dead the mediator can implant false memories of the loved one into the fragile bereaved. ESP may sound cool, until psychics starts leading police into a marsh and wasting precious time while kidnap victims remain in danger. And hypnosis may seem worth a shot until cancer patients try it instead of seeking actual time-sensitive medical procedures. Even (maybe especially) if you know this stuff already, watching our duo tie everything together is a beautiful thing.

Penn & Teller stake out their position, then line up every scientist and researcher they can get on camera from every repeatable institution they can find to back them up. Giving ample airtime for the opposing side just lets them talk long enough to put the rope around their own head. Then for the next 30 minutes they proceed to rip their subject to shreds, and with that amount of time focused on a single subject they can fully exploring every aspect of that subject making sure to tick of each and every reason someone might make an argument for it. This includes detailing the usually unbelievable fallacious origins, discrediting the perpetrators (they savage John Edward and John Gray) and explaining why people have come to believe and vehemently defend it. They go toe-to-toe with environmental lunatics and PETA. One of their best, "Creationism" is a white-hot wad of anger lobbed against teaching "intelligent design" in school that would make Roger Ebert proud.

At first, Penn's abrasive style may be off-putting. Jillette is unrelentingly verbose and Teller, of course, remains everybody's favorite mute. Penn & Teller have a lot of fun with this, reveal personal stories about themselves and do not hesitating to bring in the hot naked women for the vaguest reason. The show is packaged with their wicked, self-referential sense of humor and framed precisely with Gary Stockdale's terrific musical score. Plus, I like a good smash-cut ending and this show has some doozies.

With the content freedom given by Showtime, "Bullshit" is able to give us an open-eyed, uncensored look at some things needed to really hit their point home. They don't shy away from slaughterhouse torture of animals. We see explicit porn and specifically The Puppetry of the Penis (which I could have gone my entire life not seeing). We see a dead body. We see the actual Botox injections bleeding and bubbling up the skin. And we hear George Carlin's 7 Dirty Words.

In a TV climate that perpetually seeks to humiliate the public, Penn and Teller take an uncommonly warm approach to the people who by into and are victimized by these scams. The best part of the episodes is often while wrapping up Jillette gives us an empathetic explanation for why someone would, say, believe they where anally probed by aliens. Occasionally the show appears to take a "Candid Camera" approach (like a poor women who wears a suit of magnets and a disgusting bit involving snail mucus face masks - that's right), but then throws out the safety net and turns the tables. "Bullshit's" free-wheeling libertarian ethos never blames the consumers.

Occasionally, the show slips off the rails when it, having already made its point brilliantly, puts the camera in the face of a grieving father or mother in an attempt to rattle our emotions to their cause. That is cheap, manipulative, hackneyed Michael Moore stuff and Penn & Teller are usually above it. "Bullshit" is put together with a massive amount of material laid out in interviews, and footage that is as unedited and indisputable as you can get in this day in age. They have a keen ability to anticipate what the audience will be thinking and how to answer it.

Do they go over the edge sometimes? No doubt. "Bullshit" is a mounted attack, cleanly crafted against shysters and sacred cows. It is a persuasive iconoclastic essay in a time of political correctness that deserves to be seen and spark water cooler debate. A must-see documentary TV series. Eye-opening, through-provoking and damn addictive too.

* * * * / 4

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