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, in most of this show's challenges, players have to lie to unsuspecting victims to win money -- up to $50,000 -- and they can't tell the people they're lying to that they're being duped. Interestingly, a few of the victims lie, too, without the added motivation of cash. For example, two strangers agree to tell a contestant who's posing as a TV news reporter that they saw a UFO and underwent some rather personal "probing," all in exchange for their 15 minutes of fame. It's all in the name of fun, but younger kids could misconstrue the message. There's also a bit of mild swearing ("hell" and "damn") and kissing.
What's the story?
Consenting adults put their scruples to the test in the innovative GAME SHOW IN MY HEAD, a hidden camera-style game show hybrid that requires contestants to do whatever they're told via a wireless earpiece that gives them a direct line to host Joe Rogan. Every stunt they pull off is worth $5,000, with a chance to double their winnings in an over-the-top final stunt worth up to $50,000. Of course, the fact that the challenges take place in public -- and that the action is broadcast live to a studio audience including members of each contestant's own family -- only adds to the collective embarrassment. The catch? Contestants can't tell any of the people they're interacting with that they're on a game show, forcing the contestants to win money at other people's expense.
Is it any good?
Co-produced by actor-turned-practical joker Ashton Kutcher (who brought the world Punk'd), Game Show in My Head gets points for originality. It also succeeds at entertaining a variety of age groups -- no easy feat given today's schizophrenic entertainment landscape. Unlike a lot of the celebrity-fueled stunts on Punk'd, Game Show involves everyday people and tries hard to make challenges palatable for general family viewing. The result is a solid piece of prime time programming that's lighthearted without coming off as lame.
But there are some iffy messages when it comes to lying and greed. During one challenge, for example, a contestant has to convince unsuspecting passersby that a bottle of ranch dressing is actually an all-natural lotion that's good for the skin and then get one person to apply it to her own face and swipe a cucumber against her skin and eat it. In a later challenge, the same contestant really comes close to crossing the several lines by convincing a perfect stranger to marry her -- complete with rings, vows, and a nuptial kiss -- in front of a congregation of witnesses and a man who appears to be a priest. What some of the contestants will do for $50,000 is shocking enough. But maybe it's more disturbing to ponder what an unsuspecting person will do for free.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the lies the contestants are telling are good, bad, or indifferent -- and whether it's OK to stretch the truth for personal gain. What's the craziest thing you would do for $5,000? Is there anything you wouldn't do? What about $50,000? What if someone offered you $1 million? Would that change your perspective significantly?
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