Is TV-MA Worse Than R? I Had To Find Out

Last Saturday, I had a couple of friends and their 13-year-old kid over for dinner.

After munching on food, we got down to some light-hearted chit-chat.

I switched on my living room TV and launched Hulu to play a movie or show for the kid while the adults talked in the kitchen.

While browsing through various movies, I carefully checked their ratings and tags to make sure to put on kid-friendly content.

There were shows with different ratings, ranging from TV-Y to TV-MA.

I also remember coming across a few movies with the R tag.

I knew TV-MA and R meant that the content was not suitable for young audiences, but I didn’t know the difference between the two.

So, I took out my phone and did a quick Google search, and within just a few minutes, I knew all about TV ratings.

Here’s what to expect from TV-MA shows and R-rated movies: 

The shows rated TV-MA are suitable for mature audiences only as they contain graphic violence, nudity, or crude language and should not be watched by children under 17. The movies rated R can be watched by kids below 17 but only under adult supervision. So, on a head-to-head comparison, TV-MA is a bit worse than R. 

What are the Different TV Ratings?

TV shows and movies are categorized under different ratings for every age range based on the presence (or absence) of sexual content, graphic violence, and profanity.

This is done to ensure that you don’t end up watching something unsuitable for you or your children.

In the United States, TV ratings follow the TV Parental Guidelines system, effective since January 1, 1997.

According to this system, here are the most well-known ratings given to TV content: 


The content rated TV-Y (whether animated or live-action) is designed to be viewed by children of all ages.

No nudity, blood, and violent content in such TV shows make them perfectly suitable for anybody.

Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is an example of such a show. 


The content with a TV-Y7 rating is designed for children above the age of seven.

The TV shows with this rating include fantasy content, which may contain mild comedic violence.

No nudity, abusive language, and blood are shown in these shows.

Tom and Jerry Tales is one such show.

TY-Y7-FV is a rating for shows suitable for children aged 7 and above with more intense or combative fantasy violence. 


The content that’s rated TV-G is suitable for all ages. “G” stands for General Audience.

The TV shows of this rating might not interest children particularly and aren’t tailor-made for them.

As a parent, you can let your kids watch these shows without supervision as they don’t include violence, foul language, or sexual content.

Shows like Rescued By Ruby come with this rating. 


The content with a TV-PG rating is to be watched by children under 18 only under parental supervision, as some content may be unsuitable for younger kids.

The word “PG” means Parental Guidance Suggested.

These shows may contain infrequent coarse language, moderate violence, or some sexual content.

Tall Girl falls under this category. 


The content rated TV-14 is not suitable for children under the age of 14, and parents should pay extra attention to monitoring their kids.

These shows contain some explicit language, graphic violence, or sexual content.

Riverdale is one such show. 


The content with a TV-MA rating is not suitable for people under the age of 17.

The word “MA” stands for Mature Audience Only.

These shows contain extreme violence, nudity, curse words, and intense lousy language.

Shows like Money Heist belong to this category. 


The R-rated content is not suitable for children under the age of 17 without adult supervision.

“R” means Restricted.

This rating is given to movies and lies between PG-13 and NC-17, meaning the content is not suitable for children under 13 but can be watched by kids under 17 with parental guidance.

Movies with an R rating contain sexual content, intense violence, and foul language.

Dirty Grandpa is an example of such a movie. 


The movies rated NC-17 are not meant for children under the age of 17. The word “NC” means No Children.

This is the TV-MA equivalent of movies. It means under no circumstance should someone under 17 be permitted into movie theaters.

The majority of the movies with this rating have nudity and sexual content.

Blonde comes under this rating. 


TV-MA and R-rated content are similar since they both include graphic violence, strong language, and sexual content.

However, the former is just a bit more extreme.

Also, TV-MA is a rating reserved for shows, while R relates to movies.

While TV-MA is the most extreme TV rating, R-rated movies are the second-most extreme. NC-17 is the extreme rating given to them.

Based on all this information, it’s safe to conclude that the TV-MA rating is worse than R. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What do Unrated movies mean?

‘Unrated’ movies contain extreme violence, nudity, and strong language beyond the R and NC-17 rating limits. 

Who certifies movies?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) classifies movies and rates them for suitability to various kinds of audiences. 

When was the Motion Picture Association of America established?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was established in 1922 by major Hollywood production studios in response to increasing government censorship of movies. 

About the author

Maria Chan, or MC, as we call her, is the genius girl-boss who gave up on her cushy silicon-valley job to grind it out with us. Her undying pursuit of wanting Zeebox to the best makes it very clear that she has no interest in running a generic tech-site.