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 "celebreality" series puts C-list celebs in real police situations like pulling over an intoxicated driver, arresting an elderly woman for drug dealing, physically restraining an alleged criminal, and comforting a family whose house just burned down. These scenarios can be intensely sad, disturbing, and sometimes frightening but are almost always brief. Celebrity cops handle real evidence, such as crack pipes and a bloody knife. The celebrities carry loaded guns, which they handle responsibly, though definitely with enthusiasm. One scene shows the celebs being trained in the use of tasers, and viewers see them being painfully zapped in the process. One celebrity acts like a ladies man and flirts frequently, posing for photos with busty female fans.
What's the story?
Featuring Eric Estrada, Jack Osbourne, La Toya Jackson, Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna (Jackass) and Trish Stratus (a former professional wrestler), ARMED & FAMOUS follows the celebrities through a three-week police training course in Muncie, Ind., as well as their swearing-in ceremony and their subsequent work in the field. Paired with an experienced officer, each celebrity gets a chance to do real police work like make arrests, write tickets, investigate fires, and comfort citizens going through bad times. The Muncie citizens seem generally accepting of the city's newest cops, as in one episode when a toothless elderly woman being arrested for dealing drugs tells Estrada that she wishes she wasn't meeting "Ponch" under these circumstances. Other moments, however, are less charming, like when Acuna flirts with busty gawkers from his police car perch.
Is it any good?
What sets Armed & Famous apart from other reality shows featuring low-level celebrities is that these folks are put into serious situations in which they really have to use their wits and training. The show gives viewers a peek into the somewhat mysterious world of local police through the eyes of a well-chosen mix of Hollywood folks. For the most part, the celebs seem to take their jobs seriously, and viewers get to see them experience real fears and anxieties in dangerous, stressful situations.
While this is a far cry from educational television, its quirky peek into two worlds makes it a fun guilty pleasure. Because of the real police situations it features, Armed & Famous isn't a good fit for younger viewers, but mature teens and adults might just get a kick out of it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what might make this show appealing. How is it different from other reality shows? Which characters do you identify with most -- the celebrities, the cops, the citizens of Muncie? How much of the show do you think is real, and which parts are constructed for television? Does the fact that some reality television is staged influence your enjoyment of the shows? How? Do you think this is responsible television?