A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes of weight loss, psychology, pushing limits, and writing an autobiography.
Adversity is an opportunity. You can do anything that you set your mind to. Impermanence is the law of the universe. Plant the seeds for the next thing. Be focused: lay one brick at a time. Control is an illusion. Persist. Imagination is a very creative space. Take care of yourself.
Positive Role Models
Will Smith is a role model for many fans of his work. He pushes himself to intense limits in this show, sometimes showing his vulnerabilities, but also showing an unhealthy quest for success. He surrounds himself with a kind of entourage who laugh at his jokes, support his goals, and make his challenges easier by doing a lot of behind-the scenes work. He is a loving father who confronts his weaknesses in front of his kids in a way that is revealing, but also very intense for his family.
The majority of people in this show are Black women and men in their 40s and 50s. Not much diversity in terms of ability or class representation.
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Fairly frequent use of words like "damn," "s--t," "goddamn," "ass," and "bulls--t."
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Products & Purchases
Will Smith's movies are referenced. Fit it is used, and its technology is referred to throughout the show.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Reference to Will Smith's dad smoking cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Best Shape of My Life is a reality show by and about actor Will Smith's goal of losing 20 pounds in 20 weeks, while writing his autobiography. Messages about body shame, about pushing yourself to extreme limits, and setting yourself up for failure might be confusing or intense for tweens. Smith exercises to excess, eats very little or fasts, is ashamed of his appearance, and thinks of himself as disgusting when he is overweight. He talks about his ambition and his work ethic, but a psychologist talks about how his behavior skews manic and self-destructive.
Is It Any Good?
This moral tale about a man's ambition and his quest to push himself might ultimately confuse fans. It's simply very hard to see a person body shame him or herself in front of a camera, and in Best Shape of My Life, that's exactly what Will Smith does. But beyond that, while this super-intelligent, and extremely driven man pushes himself to the brink of physical perfection, he also begins to peel back excruciating memories of his personal journey.
Though the quality of the filmmaking is very fine, and the story is well-told, there are moments where the ends seem to justify the means. Will Smith touts his ability to persist at all costs. But the cracks in the Hollywood facade begin to appear, and the whole charade of this series begs the question: why set such intense goals to begin with? After all, Smith doesn't operate in a vacuum -- he brings a string of people in his team along for the ride -- for better, or for worse. Kids will want to watch it if they're fans, but adults might want to be ready for some discussions about what's reality and what's showbiz.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.