What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, like its American counterpart this game show -- in which people compete in very physical challenges for a $100,000 prize while being pitted against extremely athletic gladiators -- includes bouts in which participants push, shove, and wrestle each other. But overall the experience is more athletic than it is violent (that said, remind kids who watch that they shouldn't try any of these events at home). There's also lots of false bravado as participants try to antagonize one another, and the gladiators wear tight, skin-revealing outfits intended to highlight their well-toned physiques.
What's the story?
GLADIATORS is the United Kingdom's take on the popular 1990s TV competition series American Gladiators. Thirty-two brave contenders -- ranging from P.E. teachers to Royal Army Officers -- pit themselves against 12 superhero-like athletes in challenges designed to test their strength, balance, and speed. Each week two men and two women face the gladiators in events like "The Duel," "Power Ball," and "The Pyramid"; they score points whenever they're able to outrun, outfight, or simply outwit the athletes. The male and female competitor with the highest scores get an advantage in the final elimination challenge, with the fastest man and woman who complete that grueling obstacle course moving on to the next level of competition. The winners of the final round win $100,000 and the distinction of being a Gladiator champion.
Is it any good?
The series combines the power and grace of elite athleticism with some of the dramatic spectacle usually reserved for professional wrestling matches. But unlike the WWE, these British "glamazons" are slightly more poised. With names like "Tempest," "Inferno," and "Oblivion" -- and tight, skin-revealing outfits to match -- they're reminiscent of both ancient Roman fighters and comic book characters. As a result, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement when mere mortals battle it out with these almost super-human beings.
But while the fantasy behind the show may be fun, the competitors seem willing to attempt almost anything to win the title and the cash. Some of the false bravado and antagonism between the gladiators and the competitors doesn't set the best example for kids (who should also be reminded that trying any of the TV stunts at home can be very dangerous). It's definitely a little rough, but kids who like this sort of thing and who are mature enough to handle it will most likely find it very entertaining.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the appeal of the gladiators in these game shows. What makes them entertaining to watch -- their physical size? Their strength and muscular physique? Do their mythic/superhero personas make them popular? Families can also discuss why people are willing to participate in these kinds of competitions. Do the people who compete on shows like this only do it for the money? What other things might be motivating them? Is it OK to watch people batter each other in the name of entertainment?