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 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.
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?
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