A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this reality show focuses on young women who want to be fashion models. Though it's not a strict competition, the show illustrates the competitive nature of the modeling business, and the women sometimes seem unfriendly or critical of one another. Weight and body image issues are addressed in a realistic, if contradictory, way (no matter how many times they say inner beauty is what matters, it's obvious that looks count). Some of the models have chosen their work over attending high school or pursuing other creative or educational projects. There's some swearing, with the strongest words ("f--k") bleeped.
What's the story?
A MODEL LIFE WITH PETRA NEMCOVA takes the America's Next Top Model concept and softens the focus. Instead of enduring crazy challenges and catty judging sessions, the six fresh faces on this show receive gentle mentoring from Nemcova, who is known as both a model and a humanitarian. The models come to New York City from as near as Florida and as far as Slovenia and are immediately thrust into the fast-paced world of big-city modeling. They go on test shoots, meet with potential clients, work with professional photographers, and get feedback from their agents at NEXT Modeling -- all while living together in a swank hotel.
Is it any good?
In line with its softer, gentler approach, A Model Life doesn't do eliminations or necessarily have a grand prize. All of the models will be considered for a contract at the end of the season, so the show isn't a structured competition. Despite that, the young women sometimes seem competitive, and occasionally criticize one another during individual interviews. These interviews with the models, Nemcova, and the professionals who interact with the young women beef up the on-the-job footage to give viewers a sense of the entire process. Each model has her own strengths and weaknesses, and it's these, as well as strong personalities, that give the show its texture.
Though A Model Life is surely more realistic than America's Next Top Model, it suffers a bit from cheesiness. Nemcova seems like a very likeable and sweet person, but her equanimity feels a bit fake and bland.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the emphasis on super-skinny models and the complete absence of fuller-figured women in this show and in the modeling industry in general. How different are the modeling industry's standards from those of the real world? Who decides how beauty is defined? Families can also discuss modeling as a career. Do parents and teens think modeling is a good career path? What are the pros and cons? Why does modeling seem so appealing when it's so competitive and cutting? And how do the modeling world's values trickle down to popular culture?