A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Greed is central to the participants' motivation in putting themselves through the show's outrageous challenges. Contestants bicker and trash-talk each other in an attempt to throw their opponents off their game, even poking fun at their body types (a heavyset competitor is encouraged to "drop a few" and two attractive blondes are called "too pretty" to win) to get under their skin.
Positive Role Models
There's no sportsmanship or camaraderie among the players, and even the host gets into the action of stirring up rivalries and making crass comments about their performances and their likelihood of winning.
Violence & Scariness
All of the stunts are dangerous in some form or another. Contestants crash through barricades strapped to the front of a truck (wearing protective gear in that case), race to free themselves from submerged cars, and eat vile (and potentially hazardous) things like live scorpions and animal eyeballs. Occasionally there are minor injuries or illnesses from the experiences.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Female contestants' skimpy tops reveal a lot of skin, and guys bare their chests to show off their physiques. Some couples kiss, and others talk about their "sexy" bodies.
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"Ass," "damn," "hell," "piss," and the like are frequent players, and anything stronger is bleeped.
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Products & Purchases
Some episodes award big-ticket prizes like cars throughout the course of the show, in which case their brands are visible.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this reality series is a compilation of gross-out and potentially life-threatening stunts like ingesting habanero peppers, eating animal body parts, and jumping off buildings. The show relies on sensationalism and controversy among its contestants to keep the content edgy, so expect plenty of trash-talking, some of which hones in on the participants' body types ("fat," "skinny and pretty") for ammunition. Greed and ego are big players in the contestants' motivations, which leaves little room for sportsmanship, and the host often stirs animosity by pitting the players against each other. The bottom line? These aren't good models of healthy competitive behavior for kids, and the challenges themselves might inspire some similar stunts from ill-advised viewers.
Is It Any Good?
The first thing you'll hear when you tune in to this extreme reality series is Rogan's voice-over warning viewers of the danger factor in what they're about to see and instructing them not to replicate the stunts. That goes without saying for grown-ups who recognize the real-life danger in these stunts, but if you're a kid and someone tells you not to do something, your natural instinct is to do just that, right? In other words, this show could have the opposite effect on kids, inspiring them to try even scaled-down versions of what they see. Couple this curiosity factor with some strong language and generally obnoxious players, and keeping kids away is a no-brainer.
While there is something to be said for witnessing people conquer their fears and emerge stronger from the experience, it's hard to say that that is what Fear Factor is all about. The show values sensationalism over personal achievement, and its contestants are chosen as much for their strong personalities as for their willingness to put themselves through such extreme stunts for the sake of greed. There's no denying that it's entertaining, but quality substance isn't a factor for this show.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.