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 set in a high-end body shop follows the day-to-day work of refurbishing American cars. This show offers a glimpse into real-world applications of math, design, and engineering. Some minor personality conflicts arise, but most are handled professionally. The staff is racially diverse but is exclusively male.
What's the story?
AMERICAN HOT ROD is a reality show about building or refurbishing cars and motorcycles. It tracks car designer Boyd Coddington as he and his employees complete projects ranging from redesigning an El Camino to fit a motorcycle on its bed to creating a flashy 1930 roadster for a corporate promotion. Viewers watch as mechanics strip cars down to their basic elements and then build them back up, using tools as simple as a tape measure and as complex as specialized software. Coddington is an appealing figure who likes to compete with his staff; for example, doing burn-outs in the parking lot to see who can create the most smoke. Each episode relies on the particular characters involved to make it unique, with some scenes highlighting minor personality tensions. But the focus is mostly on the car builds.
Is it any good?
As with many of its fellow car-centric reality shows, American Hot Rod is a great opportunity to show teens that work can be both hard and fun and that plenty of people turn their passions into successful businesses. The fact that viewers see tattooed guys using math to solve mechanical problems and people dealing positively with setbacks is an added plus.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about turning passions into professions. Teens, what are your passions? How could those be channeled into a career? What skills do you need to work on in order to do that? Have parents been able to use their own hobbies in their jobs? Are reality shows like this one more or less compelling and fun to watch than ones based on competition and conflict? Why?