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 Duets takes a kinder, gentler approach to the reality vocal competition than has the granddaddy of the genre, American Idol, due in part to the fact that the superstars have a vested interest in the success of the contestants whom they hand-pick and mentor. The stars' feedback is positive and encouraging (though they do give critical suggestions when it's warranted), and they recognize a job well done even when it's done by their direct competition. There's some good-natured banter among the stars as they weigh in on each others' partners, but it's more jovial than serious. The stars often compliment contestants on being or sounding "sexy," but beyond that, the show's content is fine for older kids.
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What's the story?
Singing superstars Robin Thicke, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland), and John Legend take amateurs under wing and perform with them onstage in the reality competition DUETS. Each celebrity scours the nation to find two budding artists with whom to compete, facing a panel of the other three stars, whose anonymous scores tally to rank the contestant on a leader board. Each week a contestant is eliminated, culminating in the crowning of the Duets champion, who wins a recording contract from Hollywood Records.
Is it any good?
Musical competitions in every form are a mainstay in the TV lineup, and Duets attempts to get a piece of the pie by giving its megastars more camera time than do its TV peers. Fortunately, the format isn't as tacky as it could be, and while the celebs clearly enjoy their time in the limelight, they don't seem to want to withhold it from their amateur teammates. The focus is on the duet partners' ability to complement each other vocally, and some of the performances are so good, you forget to be star-struck and just delight in reality TV's ability to give a voice to some pretty amazing undiscovered talent.
That said, this is a seasonal filler show, so despite its significant star power, it's not up to the overall presentation value set by the likes of Idol and The Voice. There's less flash and a much more hurried pace to the series, which will bother viewers who like to take in to the whole package of a show. The good news, of course, is that this quick pace leaves little time for dwelling on the negative (like embarrassing auditions or emotional exits), which helps keep the content OK for tweens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about competition. What does competing against others teach you about yourself? Is there any value to losing? What does it feel like to win?
Tweens: What constitutes "constructive criticism?" How does learning how to take this kind of feedback help you to improve? What is the role of a mentor in your path to achieving your dreams?
How does Duets compare to other musical competition shows you've seen? Do you think it has staying power? Why or why not?
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