Parents' Guide to

Better Half

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Couples bicker -- but learn -- in job-swap series.

TV Bravo Reality TV 2007
Better Half Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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Hosted by comedienne Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the show is part reality series and part anthropology -- Survivor meets Trading Spouses, with a dash of the Discovery Channel thrown in. Watching how couples work under pressure is fascinating stuff, as is witnessing participants step up and give their tests the old college try. But seeing the spouses (or significant others) grow increasingly frustrated as they watch how their partners do via closed-circuit TV can be painful. "What a schmuck," says one when he sees how badly his wife is doing. "You're killing me," says another to the screen. It can feel a little like intruding on a one-sided fight -- though the stand-offs aren't ugly ... yet.

Essman's bits are the funniest parts, though her glee at uncovering participants' -- victims'? -- mess-ups is sometimes a little too gleeful. For example, her comments on the two women trying their hand at chef-dom included "They're on the same plane of cluelessness. They're both horrible." If you're a reality-show junkie, it all makes for some escapist fun. But it's hard not to wonder how long the producers can keep coming up with interesting jobs for the format. Pick the wrong field, and they'll wind up with a boring episode with only bickering to offer.

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