What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that lying and deception are at the heart of this reality competition, in which one of the 12 players is secretly sabotaging the others' efforts to succeed as a team. Contestants form alliances to spy on their peers and pick up on inconsistencies; even apparently friendly relationships can turn ugly in one-on-one confessionals as players trash-talk each other. Expect some strong language ("bitch" is audible, though multiple uses of "f--k" are bleeped), lots of greed (it is a game show, after all), dangerous stunts (jumping off a raft as it tumbles over a waterfall, for instance), and many references to "execution," since that's what each episode's elimination round is called. All of that said, the show has a cerebral quality that will intrigue teens and adults, who may enjoy piecing together their own clues to discover the traitor.
What's the story?
In THE MOLE, 12 players participate in team challenges to earn money for a cash pot -- while they simultaneously try to flush out the secret saboteur (a.k.a. "The Mole") among them who's trying to undermine their efforts without attracting suspicion. In each episode, the group is presented with tasks that test them both physically and mentally; the players must not only concentrate on their own performances but also take notes on their peers' as they try to identify the mole. Each installment concludes with a quiz about the mole -- the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated (or "executed," as they say) from the show. At the show's conclusion, the mole is revealed, and the winner claims the cash pot.
Is it any good?
First, the bad news -- this series is fraught with the kind of content that we've all come to expect from reality shows, including dramatized conflict, derogatory comments, fragile allegiances, and ulterior motives. Mix that with the greed that comes into play whenever adults compete for cash, and you can expect fiery tempers, mature language, and strong emotions. The Mole takes it even further with the saboteur gimmick -- deception is essential for the game to be a success.
That said, teens and adults who can put the iffy behavior into the context of expertly edited and overly dramatized reality TV will find that The Mole actually attempts to combine entertainment with a cerebral workout. It's fun -- and slightly addictive -- to make mental note of players' actions and try to puzzle out for yourself who might be the bad seed (though at-home viewers are disadvantaged by being at the mercy of the show's editing, which is sure to steer suspicion in the wrong direction for effect.)
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about how the production process affects viewers' impressions of what they see on TV. What do you think is the main purpose of content editing? How do producers decide which footage to keep and which to cut? How can they edit what they film to make certain scenarios seem more dramatic, emotional, or frightening? How does the role of editing vary in different types of TV shows (documentary, comedy, game shows, etc.)? In short -- how "real" is reality TV?