What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Famous in 12 is a reality series that follows a family's quest to achieve fame with the help of celebrity gossip machine TMZ. The participants' lives are put on display in this voyeuristic show that has a major online presence by way of Twitter and TMZ's website, and their ultimate success or failure is determined exclusively by their impact on social media. Their exploits will raise some eyebrows, particularly regarding how the three female siblings (ages 19 to 27) use their physical assets to turn heads and gain access to stars. Sexual topics are frequent, from the youngest sister's virginity to another's openness to perform on-camera to increase her exposure. Expect some strong language ("ass" and "hell," with stronger words such as "f--k" edited) and a hefty dose of questionable messages about popularity, self-respect, and body image. If your teen watches, this is a great opportunity to discuss and reinforce your own values to counteract those on the screen.
What's the story?
FAMOUS IN 12 is a self-proclaimed social experiment that brings a small-town family to glamorous Hollywood and gives its members 12 weeks to achieve the fame they crave. For erotica writer Angie, her husband Mike, and Angie's three daughters, Taliah, Jameelah, and Maariyah, it's the chance to live out a dream. TMZ TV boss Harvey Levin and his newsroom crew help guide the wannabes' efforts, but ultimately success is in their hands and depends on their ability to infiltrate and adopt the lifestyle of the rich and famous. This they attempt to achieve by staging encounters with entertainment celebrities on the streets and in hot spots such as popular clubs in the hopes that they'll achieve stardom by association.
Is it any good?
If you thought Keeping Up with the Kardashians was as obnoxious as reality entertainment could go, then you haven't given Famous in 12 a chance. The similarities between the two shows are no accident, of course, what with an enabling manager/mom and her three drop-dead gorgeous daughters whose brazenness in front of the camera knows no bounds. But, whereas the Kardashian clan's notoriety is already sealed up, this family proves they're willing to do and say anything to anyone who will help them achieve the same level of intrigue, and that includes viewers like you and your teens. After all, their ultimate success is gauged by how many people find them interesting enough to follow their antics on social media.
The show has one thing going for it: Everyone involved is brutally honest about their intentions from the get-go. Puppeteer Levin is willing to pull strings for the wannabes because, as he says, they're shameless enough to stand a chance of succeeding in a society that measures fame by shock value rather than talent. Jameelah openly covets how Kim Kardashian turned an X-rated tape into global fame and is hopeful for a similar break. And Angie acknowledges that actively parenting her daughters prevents her from furthering their, um, "careers." In other words, family values have little place in this Hollywood home, and these characters have nothing positive to teach your teens, except what not to do. Need another reason to skip it? Its self-serving reliance on social media for the characters' running popularity stats raises all kinds of issues about how the cyber world can be used to make or break a person's impression of self-worth.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how fame is assigned. Does a celebrity's personality or talent play any role in making him or her recognizable anymore? Does society easily forgive stars' bad behavior? Is any particular kind of bad behavior worse than another?
How is social media used as a tool in conjunction with this show? Do you think it's healthy to measure your popularity by what's said about you online? In what ways do people feel more empowered to voice strong opinions via social media when they might not say the same things to someone in person? Is this ever a good thing?
What messages do shows like this send about body image, particularly for girls? Does seeing and hearing women obsess about their looks influence how you feel about yours? Do you ever see characters of different sizes and shapes on the shows you watch? Do their physical appearances receive the same attention that more slender characters' do?