The Onion Review

Now that you know what The Onion is, you're probably asking: "will the tears it makes me cry be from laughter, or from frustration?"  Here's our take on what does well and not-so-well.


  • Good for a quick laugh — The Onion is free to access, doesn't require you to sign up for an account, and has a fairly accessible interface.  Just come in and chuckle at the wacky fake news stories and headlines!

  • A whole network of satire — The Onion has mainly text and video articles on its main website, but has other types of content on its other websites.  Onion Studios has in-depth videos and video series, The A.V. Club lampoons entertainment and pop culture, and ClickHole offers a takedown of ubiquitous Internet trends!  Oh, and The Onion can be found on many popular social networks, too.

  • Fool your friends — Many of The Onion's stories can be shared over social networks and email.  Send them to your friends and family, and see if they can tell if they can tell if you've sent them a phony bit of news!


  • Navigation options could be better — Though The Onion has a pretty accessible layout and a handy "menu" function that can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go on the website, there are still some sections that are difficult to reach.  The search options are also rather lackluster.

  • Not everyone will get the joke(s) — Some have complained that The Onion's deadpan style is just meant for tricking people into viewing their articles and taking them seriously, and not really trying to make a joke.  But that in itself is part of the underlying satire of The Onion.  It pokes fun at the tendency of modern news media organizations to sensationalize headlines and story details in order to attract readers, as well as at the tendency of modern news consumers to accept what the media tells them at face value without bothering to check the facts.  Whether you find this amusing or not is up to you.

The bottom line: 7.5/10

The Onion is a difficult website to rate because the majority of its appeal rides on whether you like its brand of comedy or not.  As is often noted, humour is very subjective, and some people consider what The Onion does to be downright dishonest as opposed to anything funny.  Others, however, appreciate the irony in how The Onion is able to fool certain people and groups into thinking that it's a legitimate news source by mocking the conventions of both producers and consumers of news.

The Onion is one of the biggest news satire networks of its kind, and is fairly easy to navigate.  If you already consume a lot of legitimate news and get a kick out of seeing the journalistic process skewered on shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Rick Mercer Report, or This Hour Has 22 Minutes, chances are that you'll appreciate The Onion.  If not, consider looking for laughs elsewhere.


Now, why not peel back the layers of The Onion and form your own opinion on whether our review is as phony as anything on The Onion or not?  Our next lesson will be on how to navigate!

What is The Onion?

There are millions of sources of news and information on the Internet today, all competing for people's attention.  Some are well-known organizations of journalists with long track records, while others are more on the fringe, catering towards specific audiences and viewpoints.  Similarly, there are many different comedy websites on the Internet, covering styles from slapstick humour to old-fashioned punch-line jokes, from parodies and satire to dark, absurdist humour.

Now, what happens when you put a news website and a comedy website together?  Well, you get something like  The Onion makes jokes about the news by attempting to be the news.  It plays with the notion that sometimes, no matter the source, the news just seems too absurd to be real.  Stories are sometimes blown up to be larger than life on the surface, but if you dig deeper, they end up just being blown out of proportion. 

So, in a nutshell, what is The Onion?

The Onion is a comedy website that presents its jokes in the form of fake news articles and video reports.  Most of its humour comes from sensationalizing mundane events so as to make them newsworthy.  The Onion pokes fun at subjects such as news reporting, pop culture, sports, and lifestyles.

The Onion is similar to televised news parody programs such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Last Week Tonight, The Rick Mercer Report, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Is The Onion real or satire?

The Onion is a satirical website.  However, it has occasionally fooled some people into believing that its stories are real.  This is because its styles of content delivery are meant to mirror those of legitimate news outlets, and its topics are often based on real (or at least conceivably real) world events.

Just remember that the stories on The Onion may contain some kernel of truth (or perceived truth) in their satirical humour, but in literal terms, the events that they portray are always fictional.


This course will introduce The Onion to you, give you a tour of the website, and show you some other websites that you can try for a laugh-out-loud skewering of modern news outlets!