Fear Factor

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Fear Factor TV Poster Image
Retread of the gross-out reality competition is a bit tamer.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show uses pop-psychology terms like "facing your fears" but it's really about watching people cringe in terror or dry-heave with revulsion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Contestants exhibit a range of reactions to the challenges, from exhilaration to horror. They may cry, scream, gasp, beg for mercy, or declare they loved the experiences. Contestants sometimes insult each other.


Ludacris warns viewers not to try stunts at home during each show, but some stunts carry real danger -- contestants could be injured, perhaps seriously, in some dares; others, involve merely gross things such as bugs or weird cuts of meat. 


All contestants wear athletic-type gear but female contenders wear clothing that is tighter and briefer, with arms and midriffs generally exposed. Quips occasionally veer into the off-color: a contestant is suggestively asked what she knows about latex (referring to condoms) when she sees an empty body bag in a morgue, and a man says he "plays around with latex with my girlfriend." 


Cursing and off-color language: "hell," "damn," "bitch," "ass," "f--k" is bleeped. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fear Factor is a revival of the show that originally aired in the early 2000s that features contestants dared to perform certain dangerous, disgusting, and/or upsetting stunts. Viewers are warned during each episode not to try these dares at home, but some of the challenges involve real danger -- heights, drowning, suffocation -- though steps are taken to reduce dangers (contestants may wear safety gear, for example). Competitors may cry, scream, dry-heave, curse, or beg for mercy during challenges, which may involve serious hazards (heights, water) or just things that are gross (bugs, repulsive things characters must eat). Expect some cursing and off-color language: "hell," "damn," "bitch," "ass," "f--k" is bleeped. Female contestants wear athletic gear that's tighter and briefer than that of male contestants. There's some trash talking between contestants, some of which involves stereotypes about gender roles.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLowe's man December 30, 2017
This show may be a bit tamer than its predecessor, but that doesn't make the show right.
Teen, 17 years old Written byAngela2000 August 2, 2017

Bad factor

I think the first on is better Challenges ,and more exiting.

What's the story?

Like the original FEAR FACTOR, this hour-long show features contestants who compete to successfully finish a series of stunts that are dangerous and/or disgusting: disassembling a cage they're trapped in underwater, getting sealed in a body bag inside a morgue drawer, lying in a bed full of roaches and worms. Each team of two must compete in three rounds of challenges, with the worst performing team culled during each round. The last team standing wins $50,000. Host Ludacris takes over for old host Joe Rogan.

Is it any good?

In an age when YouTube challenges are all the rage, this remake has a bit more relevance and appeal for teen and tweens than the original. And though Fear Factor can't boast much in the way of educational content or positive social-emotional lessons (despite a lot of blather about contestants bravely facing their fears), it could be worse. Whereas the 2001-2006 Fear Factor was famous for asking contestants to guzzle down donkey sperm, jump off buildings, or eat the eyeballs and/or testicles of many animal varieties, the newly refurbished stunts are designed to target the fears of younger viewers -- so expect to see challenges involving Slenderman, smart phones, or stunts inspired by Five Nights at Freddy's

Even though viewers are warned throughout the show not to try stunts at home, parents may wish to make sure that younger kids don't get a chance to watch, as they may be tempted to try some dangerous things. Teens and tweens, though, could do worse for mindless entertainment -- though this show is ridiculous, at least it's not degrading or cruel. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why reality TV appeals to so many people. Is there anything realistic about shows like Fear Factor? What other reality series do you watch that seem more relatable to you?

  • Teens: Have you ever faced an "I dare you" situation with your peers? How did you handle it? Where do you draw the line when it comes to challenges? Is it difficult to walk away from confrontation?

  • Why is it interesting to watch people do things they find scary or disgusting? Is it more fun to watch or to do things like the contestants are trying? Why is watching discomfort from a comfortable location popular entertainment? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: May 30, 2017
  • Cast: Ludacris
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14
  • Available on: DVD, Streaming
  • Last updated: September 26, 2020

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