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 atlhough the family at the center of this reality series about a Louisiana pest control business has a Goth-like persona (the company logo is a skull and crossbones), the show is fairly mild -- and animal friendly -- overall. That said, the series does include some family drama, which leads to a few catty arguments and occasional "bleeped out" swearing (like "s--t"). Food and tool product logos are sometimes visible, and some of the pests being removed (which range from cockroaches to alligators) resist rather violently.
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What's the story?
BILLY THE EXTERMINATOR follows former U.S. Air Force Sergeant Billy Bretherton and other members of the Bretherton-owned Vexcon Company as they help people with their pest-control problems. Viewers watch as Billy, sometimes assisted by his brother Rick and other employees, employs both standard techniques and non-traditional methods to remove vicious raccoons from petting zoos, buzzing bee hives from inside walls, mice-eating snakes from abandoned homes, and renegade alligators from suburban streets. Unlike other exterminators, the animal-loving Billy and his family go the extra mile, attempting to rescue as many animals as possible and relocating them to more eco-friendly locations. Meanwhile, Billy's home life has its own share of drama as his family -- including wife Mary, dad \"Big Bill,\" and spirited mom Donnie -- come to terms with the reappearance of Rick's ex-wife, Pat, and her efforts to play a role in the business.
Is it any good?
Despite Vexcon's skull and crossbones logo and some of the family's dark Gothic attire, BIlly the Exterminator is surprisingly gentle. Billy seems to love his work, and his love for animals is apparent with every job he does. He also offers interesting bits of information about specific animals' role in the ecosystem. There are funny moments, too, particularly when Billy employs his own special methods -- including wearing black leather outfits with scary masks and feather boas -- to keep from being bitten and/or stung by the animals he's working with.
While watching Billy and his crew work with wild animals ends up being fairly kid-safe entertainment overall, the show's focus on the tense relationship between Rick's ex-wife and the rest of the family creates some uncomfortable (and arguably unnecessary voyeuristic) scenes. Donnie's outspoken ways also lead to some catty moments, and family discussions sometimes get a bit heated. But if you can overlook that side of things, this series actually offers some lighthearted, informative entertainment for those who enjoy watching people doing jobs that they probably wouldn't want to do themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way that people who work in fields that many viewers wouldn't be comfortable with are portrayed in the media. What makes them interesting subject matter for reality television?
Do you think shows like this are meant to help viewers appreciate the work and risks that go into "unusual" jobs? Or are they primarily intended to just entertain?
How do people get started in these careers? What kinds of skills (and personality) does someone need to be able to do pest control work?
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