MADtv, the live-action parody and sketch comedy series, is a source of nostalgia for many. It launched the career of numerous cast members, from Keegan-Micahel Key and Jordan Peele (who went on to create and star in the now-famous Key & Peele), to Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, Suicide Squad, Central Intelligence). It aired on the American broadcasting channel FOX between 1995 and 2009, with 15 seasons and over 300 episodes.
It was created by David Salzman (producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Fax Bahr, and Adam Small, and directed by Bruce Leddy (director on Nickelodeon’s School of Rock and segments of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight), David Grossman (director of Desperate Housewives and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Amanda Bearse (Marcy Rhoades D’Arcy on Married… with Children
Is MADtv Coming Back?
Unfortunately, no. Following the show’s main run from 1995 to 2009, the cast members returned for a 20th anniversary reunion show in 2015. Despite not having great ratings, the CW went on to produce and broadcast another season, consisting of eight episodes, in 2016.
Considering this, there’s a good chance something awaits us in 2025; it could be a reunion show, or it could be another limited season. Unfortunately, that’s a while off, and fans will have to wait for more news on if and when the beloved show will be making a return.
MADtv has no story per se; each episode features a series of self-contained sketches, typically parodies and satire, with plenty of off-color and politically incorrect jokes. It wasn’t, however, an improv comedy like Whose Line Is It Anyway; each episode has a defined structure of connected sketches, and occasionally animated shorts of the comics Spy vs Spy and Don Martin, which are owned by the parent company MAD magazine.
All sketches are typically relevant to the political climate at the time they are aired. The show was technically based on the MAD magazine but stopped relying on it for any direction for the show after the third season.
MADtv’s biggest competitor was Saturday Night Live, which has an extremely similar structure and audience. The 2008 United States Elections ended up boosting the popularity of Saturday Night Live, and with a decreasing viewer count, ratings, and frequent budget cuts affecting the quality of the episodes produced, the producers FOX ended up canceling the show. It did receive reruns on Comedy Central, and then an animated version on Cartoon Network named MAD, which ran between 2010 and 2014 and was more in line with the MAD magazine.
MADtv has a huge list of cast members that it has accumulated over its 300+ episodes, with 65 different people appearing at one time or another. Of these Michael McDonald is the longest-running cast member, working on the show for 11 seasons. He then went on to direct and guest star on multiple episodes of the medical comedy and drama show Scrubs, and is currently working as a voice actor for The Loud House
Bobby Lee has the next longest running period with 9 seasons. He then went on to co-star with Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson on the sitcom Splitting Up Together in 2019. He also co-hosts the podcast Bad Friends alongside Andrew Santino. Bobby Lee was also present in the 8-episode limited season of MADtv released in 2016.
Debra Wilson comes a close third with 8 seasons of MADtv under her belt, and she now mainly works in voice acting. She voiced Debbie in Over The Hedge, Amanda Waller in Batman: The Enemy Within, and Grace Walker in Wolfenstein: Youngblood. She is currently an announcer on Jane Lynch’s renewal of the NBC gameshow The Weakest Link.
Other notable cast members include Nicole Parker (who went on to star as Elphaba in the Broadway production of Wicked), Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin in Family Guy, for which she won a Primetime Emmy, and Susie Myerson in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for which she won another two), Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project, Suicide Squad, Central Intelligence), Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele).
Where to Watch MADtv Online?
The show is available on HBO’s streaming service HBO Max, which is unfortunately not yet available for those in India. A few of the earlier episodes, especially the pre-2000 ones, are also available on YouTube.