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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 reality series discusses mythological creatures that are scary in some way -- giant snakes, werewolves, killer worms, devils, etc. On top of the scary subject matter, the show involves pranks where unsuspecting victims are tricked into thinking they are being attacked by one of these monsters. Though the attacks don’t look very realistic, the victims’ fear is palpable (and bleeped language sometimes results from these attacks). Teens will probably like the combination of dark humor and strange creatures.
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What's the story?
Ordinary people volunteer to participate in an ambiguous research project in FREAK ENCOUNTERS, unaware that they are actually about to be duped into thinking their team is being attacked by a mysterious beast. The show introduces a variety of legendary creatures, and includes interviews with experts who explain what these monsters might be like and how much damage they could inflict on a person. Then it’s back to the elaborate practical jokes, where an escalating series of clues -- claw marks, slaughtered raccoons, etc. – ratchet up the tension. Finally comes the fake attack, which usually generates very real terror from the victim.
Is it any good?
Freak Encounters combines two reality genres: the practical joke and the mythical investigation. One of these is done well. The pranks are well-planned and well-executed, and the victims are usually completely fooled. Their real sense of fear is compelling to watch, as is their obvious relief when they realize they are not about to get mauled by a monster. The educational component is less interesting. The experts describe legendary beasts, some less well-known than others, with plenty of guesswork. Sure, that’s to be expected in a show about myths, but this section of the program just feels underdeveloped.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about practical jokes. Do you think these kinds of pranks are funny? How easy is it to stage a good one? Have you ever participated in such a prank? Has anyone ever pulled a prank on you? Can these pranks ever go to far?
Talk about fear. How does this show try to make viewers feel scared? Do you believe any of the legendary monsters that are featured on this show might be real? If so, what makes you believe that?
Why would someone agree to go on a show like this? Would you ever want to be on a reality show? What if you ended up looking silly on the show? Do you think the people on this show end up looking silly?