America's Prom Queen

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
America's Prom Queen TV Poster Image
Reality contest tame, but has some mixed messages.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The judges stress that the contest isn't based solely on looks, and the contestants demonstrate the importance of diversity. One is overweight; two are African-American; and most have "normal" teen bodies that don't reinforce impossibly skinny stereotypes. Still, the show promotes the idea that being crowned prom queen is a glamorous honor that all girls should aspire to. Some reality show back-biting/plotting as well.


Neutrogena and CosmoGIRL! magazine are prominent sponsors. The host and various contestants "act" in staged segments that are essentially commercials for Neutrogena products, and one of the judges is the CosmoGIRL! editor in chief.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this show's content is tame enough to make it age-appropriate for older tweens and up. But the premise -- that becoming "America's Prom Queen" is the most amazing thing a girl could ever want -- doesn't give young female viewers a whole lot to reach for. In terms of role modeling, not every girl exhibits behavior that's worthy of a glittery crown (one openly admits that she's gaining other girls' confidences so she can eventually use their weaknesses against them), but the judges eventually weed out the contestants with iffy agendas.

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Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

A Guilty Pleasure

I admit: this show is my guilty pleasure. It is one of the reality TV shows that doesn't make fun of or exploit the contestants. Unlike many reality shows,... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

In AMERICA'S PROM QUEEN, 10 teen girls are chosen to compete in a six-week, elimination-style pageant to determine who will walk away with the show's title as well as the opportunity to become CosmoGIRL! magazine's official prom correspondent, among other prizes. The competitors are tested on their abilities to perform various prom-related tasks, such as standing out when it comes to personal style, dancing with a partner, and planning a blow-out event. A \"Prom Committee\" composed of celebrity judges narrows the field to a final \"Prom Court\" of contestants, but viewers at home ultimately choose who gets to wear the crown.

Is it any good?

The show is clearly targeting tween and teen girls and may, in fact, reel them in with its sparkly tiaras and pretty dresses. But parents might want to tune in to make sure their kids aren't absorbing any negative messages when it comes to girl power. More often than not, the challenges require superficial skills instead of actual smarts. And because this is a reality show, the contestants are crammed into a fully furnished mansion, where closeness sometimes leads to cattiness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why the honor of being "prom queen" is something people value. When you think of what a prom queen looks like, what sort of girl do you imagine? Could you see yourself being named your school's prom queen? Why or why not? Which of the contestants do you admire the most and why? Which do you think is the prettiest? What do your answers to those two questions tell you about the true definition of beauty?

TV details

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