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 show for kids features teen duos who face off against each other in physical and mental challenges. Teams who lose the battles are sent home at the end of each episode, and on-camera interviews can get a bit nasty with finger-pointing, gossip, and questioning of other contestants' tactics. Just like its obvious inspiration, Survivor, while the show celebrates physical strength, mental stamina, and strategic teamwork, it also devotes a disproportionate amount of camera time to the contestants' personality conflicts and shaky alliances. Suspense and drama make the show hard to turn off, but the negativity is best filtered by a parent.
What's the story?
ENDURANCE is a kids' reality show that plays out like a combination of genre icons Survivor and Fear Factor -- complete with an isolated locale, primitive living quarters, tasks that challenge players both physically and mentally, and alliances that dissolve as quickly as they're built. The 20 teen contestants, who hail from all over the United States, are divided into pairs of one boy and one girl. The resulting 10 teams compete in tasks designed to test their strength, stamina, and determination; the winners collect game pieces (12 in all), while one team is eliminated at the end of each episode. In trademark reality TV fashion, the culmination of each episode is dedicated to interviews with the most recently eliminated players. These, too, often take a negative spin, lingering on the teens' self-pity and resentment so much that it's sometimes hard to watch.
Is it any good?
Kids and parents alike will enjoy watching the challenges and getting caught up in the often-suspenseful drama. Reversals of fortune are common and add to the tension, and there's a genuine fascination in watching ordinary people react to pressure. But the show's tendency to play up the competitive (and often strained) relationships among the teens is a disappointing note in an otherwise enjoyable package. Contestants reveal on-again, off-again alliances; partners squabble and betray each other; and players accuse one another of unfair tactics and favoritism.
While the challenges are designed to reward teamwork, the cameras hone in on individual players during "confessionals" that encourage complaints and criticism among the teens. And although both the action and the drama offered by Endurance can be addictive, parents may question whether the positive aspects of the competition are outweighed by the sensationalized negativity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of sportsmanship. What makes a good loser/winner? After a loss, how do you feel about yourself and your competitor? Is it more important to win or to try your best? What type of behavior are we teaching kids by having them compete on reality television? Does this show make your kids want to be on TV?
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