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 car-racing competition has even more product placement/sponsorship issues than your average reality series. The ads plastered atop the cars and on the racers' suits are irritating enough, but the voice-over verbal plugs for a select few companies are just plain obnoxious. Aside from the overbearing advertising, there's little here to worry parents -- but there's equally little substance: The show mostly plays out like a fantasy camp for the rich and famous to live out their need for speed.
What's the story?
Just when you thought reality shows had infiltrated every frontier, along comes yet another one to prove you wrong. In FAST CARS AND SUPERSTARS: GILLETTE YOUNG GUNS CELEBRITY RACE, a dozen sports and B-list entertainment stars are paired with six of stock car racing's most impressive drivers for some extreme driving lessons -- and the celebs' chance to put the pedal to the metal for the title of fastest star in a car. Folks like NFL great John Elway, tennis diva Serena Williams, NBA champ John Salley, actor William Shatner, and singer Jewel live out their speedster dreams under the guidance of pros like Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Jamie McMurray. After getting their feet wet in a 200 mph ride-along, each star learns racing basics before facing the first round of competition -- the time trials. With four drivers eliminated by their speedier peers, the contest moves to an accuracy challenge, and the celebs left standing then go head-to-head in the final race to determine the winner.
Is it any good?
Hosted by ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne and NASCAR analyst Brad Daugherty (formerly of NBA fame), this series has the look and feel of an abbreviated version of a standard race, which is sure to thrill NASCAR fans. But for the general viewing public, it's obnoxious to say the least. The hosts' constant voice-over chatter -- much of which is full of nonsense comments like, "He's crazy!" and "He is nuts!" -- soon becomes nearly as irritating as the drivers themselves and the excessive advertising on the cars, not to mention the voice-over plugs.
While it has the requisite cast of B-list celebs -- who, along with the big-name NASCAR drivers showing them the ropes, would probably love their show to find the success of seasoned reality veterans like Dancing with the Stars -- the series comes up short in competitive muscle. Its herky-jerky style and lack of camera time for the behind-the-scene confessional interviews (usually the heart of reality TV) make it clear that Fast Cars can't compete with its meatier peers. In the end, it just smacks of a televised fantasy camp for stars to live out their NASCAR dreams.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of reality TV. Why are reality shows so popular with fans? Are any of them even remotely real? If so, which ones? Which are more believable -- the ones with celebrities or the ones with regular people? Why do you think celebrities take part in series like this? What does our infatuation with famous people say about our society? Tweens: Who are some of your favorite celebrities? Why do you admire them?