Destroy Build Destroy

Engineering + explosions = fun reality show for tweens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show merges some educational lessons about engineering with some age-appropriate thrills of explosions. Teens always have adult supervision and use safety precautions.

Positive role models

There's a good bit of trash-talking between the teams, and it's not always good-natured. A team of skateboarders, for example, is openly contemptuous of their rivals -- self-described math geeks whom they call "dorks." The adults are good mentors.


No fighting, but destruction is a fundamental part of the show. Kids are encouraged to destroy various vehicles or large machines, sometimes using explosives (with help from adult experts).

Not applicable

Some mildly derogatory insults, such as "dork" or referring to a co-ed team as "ladies."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this engineering-themed reality show is heavy on demolition. Two teams of young people are encouraged to destroy large objects (like cars) and use the wreckage to build a machine of their own. With help from adult experts, the winners get to destroy the losers' creation using TNT, plastic explosives, military-grade weaponry, and other devices capable of inflicting heavy-duty damage. The "build" phase of the show requires some creative thinking and design sense, though the competition and the destruction segments take up much more of the show and present much less of a mental challenge. Expect some trash-talking between the teams, sometimes more good-natured than others.

What's the story?

In DESTROY BUILD DESTROY, two teams of young people go head-to-head in an engineering-themed competition -- with a healthy dose of destruction thrown in for fun. The show's title describes the three stages of the contest. Host Andrew W.K. starts the action by asking each team to pick a method to destroy something big -- like a car or other major machine -- using high explosives, a team of burly guys armed with heavy tools, dropping it off a cliff, or another equally effective demolition technique. Using the wreckage, the teens must then construct something new that they can use in a contest (think along the lines of a tennis ball air cannon mounted on a movable platform). At the end of the show, the winning team gets to destroy the losing group's creation using even more impressive tools of destruction, including military-grade weaponry or plastic explosives.

Is it any good?


What's not to like about blowing stuff up? And the explosions on this show are seriously big -- which means they're certain to appeal to teen and tween viewers, especially boys. Perhaps not surprisingly, then, even though the point of the show is ostensibly engineering, it's the smallest part. Two-thirds of each episode is about destroying things, and only the building phase requires thinking and creativity. Still, at least the teenage participants aren't handling the explosives (or the power tools, for that matter). They serve more as directors, telling adults what to do and watching the results. Only during the actual contest do the kids really take a hands-on role, though they certainly seem to be having fun through the entire process.

Andrew W.K. and the producers encourage a fair bit of rivalry, and a few of the comments occasionally go a bit too far. A team of skaters, for example, crows that their skills at building skateboard ramps will help them design a superior vehicle and is openly contemptuous of their rivals, a group of self-defined math team geeks whom the skaters deride as "dorks." And in the end, the contest stage seems kind of random -- and the results don't depend all that much on either group's engineering prowess. But at least the explosions are fun to watch.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about which part of the show is more fun to watch -- the building or the destroying. Why? If you were on the show, which part would be more fun to actually be involved with? Do you think it's OK for a TV show to encourage young people to blow up stuff, using real (and really powerful) explosives? Families can also discuss mechanical engineering. What do you think of the teams' designs? Would you have built something differently? How could you improve on their creations?

TV details

Cast:Andrew W.K.
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Science and nature
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of Destroy Build Destroy was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byPrototypeX7 June 29, 2011
age 8+


Another live-action show that shouldn't be on CARTOON network....
Adult Written byjennijenjen9 June 24, 2011
age 8+

Not even worth broadcasting, watched.

I did not want to even want to give it a star. This show does not worth even half a star. At this age (around 8) that's when kids start to be bratty, rebellious, and they would want to destroy maybe their TV at home just to think its cool. Although it is to enhance children's imagination to design and build their machines, it is actually causing more burden to the environment. Seeing the clips on TV about this show when destroying the large objects that creates fire & smoke makes me think that isn't all this wasting materials? If it is not wasting materials, then at least it is releasing unnecessary carbon dioxide & heat into the atmosphere. Global warming is being a huge problem for Earth. We should care for the Earth instead, unless this show can actually educate kids about being eco-friendly and such, or create objects or whatever that will help. I know nothing about this show & maybe I'm being dumb here, but I am just worry about our planet. I really don't want 12/21/2012 to be true..
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 9 year old Written bypurplemoon July 16, 2009
age 9+

We love this show!

We love this! Our nine year old wants to be an engineer when he grows up and he loves the creativity aspect of this show (so do we!). It shows teamwork ~ for sure! Have to admit, we weren't too keen on the "destroy" part, but hey, they built it, they can destroy it! Great show!
What other families should know
Great messages


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