Carson Nation

TV review by
Elka Karl, Common Sense Media
Carson Nation TV Poster Image
Makeover show light on drama, heavy on sympathy, sweetness.

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

Positive Messages

The show focuses on deserving, kind-hearted makeover candidates, and offers viewers a window into these everyday peoples' lives. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Host Carson Kressley crisscrosses the United States looking for deserving makeover candidates. Along the way, he listens to his guests' stories, offering a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on if needed. Kressley is an empathetic and likable host whose affection for the show's guests seems genuine.


Some participants' stories involve illness, divorce, or the loss of a loved one.


Double entendres aren't unheard of, but language rarely goes beyond mild. 


In one episode a bride-to-be receives a gift of Louboutin heels. The show uses donated goods and services from mostly local vendors, which are mentioned by name throughout the show. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Guests at a wedding toast with and drink champagne. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality makeover series takes the superficial fashion makeover template and spins it a heart of gold. Host Carson Kressley finds deserving makeover candidates and gives them style updates for free. All of these participants have endured some type of hardship -- from divorce to the loss of a loved one -- which makes the stories quite touching (and sometimes drawing tears). Expect mentions of local stores, service poviders, and some national brands -- all who donate their services presumably in exchange for mentions on the show.

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What's the story?

Carson Kressley, best known for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, travels throughout America in an Airstream, looking for deserving makeover candidates in this reality makeover show. These makeovers take place in smaller U.S. cities, such as Odessa, Texas, and Eureka, Calif., and focuses on makeover candidate who have faced adversity in some way. In every episode, these makeover candidates share their touching (and at times heartbreaking) stories. Since the makeovers use products and services from local vendors, the show also serves as a way for these vendors to market their businesses.

Is it any good?

CARSON NATION is surprisingly touching. Hosted by the exuberant and almost-but-never-quite-over-the-top Kressley, much of the show hinges on his personality and hosting skills. Most viewers will find him charming, though some may find him a bit too invasive as a host. The before and afters of Kressley's makeovers are dramatic (Kressley actually calls these "make-betters").

Additionally, the makeover candidates are relatable and likeable, and many have faced life-changing or life-threatening experiences and illnesses. Since the show depends on donated goods and services from vendors, it walks a fine line between advertorial and entertainment; however, it usually lands squarely in the latter camp. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about makeovers. Why do you think makeover shows are so popular? Why do you think people feel as if they need makeovers? Do you like the participants' looks better before or after their makeovers?

  • Why do you think the vendors and businesses donate their goods and services to be on the show? Do you think that this television series is exploiting the businesses, or are the businesses benefiting from the arrangement?

  • Do you think makeover shows encourage consumerism? Did you want to buy certain products or try new hairstyles or clothing styles after watching the show? Do you think this is a positive or a negative impulse?

TV details

  • Premiere date: June 25, 2011
  • Network: OWN
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: September 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramatic reality shows

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