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 reality spin-off is just as cringe-worthy as the crude series that supply its contestants, Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. Most of the women dress in tight, revealing clothes, and some act in sexually suggestive ways (such as getting up on a table and dancing sexily while wearing a schoolgirl outfit). Flashbacks to the original shows include shots of the women making out and carousing. There's some discussion of drug use, and the women are sometimes seen drinking or talking about being hung over. They argue and threaten one another, and some scenes involve physical fights. Profanity is regular, though much is bleeped. Last but not least, the show sends confusing messages about "good" behavior, and the women get some intense criticism from each other and their judges.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Apparently, many people can't get enough of the cringe-worthy antics of the female contestants on shows like Flavor of Love and Rock of Love. Hence, CHARM SCHOOL, which takes an interesting -- if hypocritical -- tack with the wild women who once vied for Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels' affections. Declaring that the female contestants' outrageous behavior on the original show was an embarrassing display of rude, tacky tendencies, Charm School purports to teach them how to behave better. During the course of the series, they attend etiquette classes and compete in challenges that are designed to strengthen their character and add a little class to their act.
Is it any good?
Despite moving speeches about self-respect, other elements of the show point to continued objectification of the women for the sake of "entertainment." For example, when they prepared for their first elimination round in the show's first season, the contestants were given outfits that included short schoolgirl skirts, which many of them proceeded to sex up as much as possible by hiking them up even shorter or pairing them with an unbuttoned shirt with rosary beads nestled in cleavage. And Charm School delivers plenty of confusing messages both to the women and the audience. For example, the women are told that teaming up for a rigorous obstacle course challenge is an exercise in collaboration and sisterhood, but the team captain who chooses teammates based on friendship rather than their ability to win is punished.
In some ways, Charm School is an interesting study in class and race, though this aspect of the show isn't highlighted. For instance, when a white male judge tells an African-American female contestant that she should focus on the skills she's learning instead of the cash prize, she scoffs, saying later in an interview that for her, the money could significantly change her life. Viewers who recognize how some of these women are being taken advantage of by the show and its producers might feel a little icky enjoying the strangely compelling car crash that is Charm School.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why these women wanted to be on this show. What do you think their motivation is? What can you deduce about them from their behavior? Do you think they need or want to change the way they act? If they didn't act so wild, do you think they would be on the show in the first place? What purpose does a series like this serve? Is it just meant to be a guilty pleasure?