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Grease: You're the One That I Want
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 show -- in which contestants vie for leading roles in an upcoming Broadway production of Grease -- plays out much like trendsetter American Idol, but without the rude comments from judges. The show gives plenty of air time to bad performances as well as good ones, but the three judges keep negativity to a minimum. Some contestants (mostly those who are older, heavier, or of color) are told they may not "look the parts" made famous by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, but they're never eliminated based on appearance alone, and a few are applauded by the judges for their efforts to break stereotypes.
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What's the story?
GREASE: YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT goes where no other reality competition show has gone before: the intense world of a Broadway audition. Contestants vie for the leading roles in a Broadway revival of hit movie musical Grease, which in 1978 jumpstarted the careers of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Thousands of hopefuls answer open casting calls in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City; from them, 50 semi-finalists are chosen to hone their singing, dancing, and acting skills at Grease Academy. The 12 finalists who strut the best stuff for the judges -- producer David Ian, Tony-winning director Kathleen Marshall, and Grease writer Jim Jacobs -- will then compete for the votes of American viewers, who'll ultimately select the next Danny and Sandy.
Is it any good?
This series has all the characteristics that make reality TV so enticing: talent (and occasional lack thereof), competition, triumph, heartbreak, colorful personalities, and people willing to do anything for a chance at fame. But Grease: You're the One That I Want is remarkably different from the granddaddy of all musical reality contests, American Idol, in that its judges largely refrain from nasty criticism and are willing to evaluate contestants based more on their talent and less on their appearance. Though they do often comment on whether a person looks like the "ideal" Sandy or Danny (those who are found lacking are most often heavier, older, or multicultural contestants), no one is eliminated based on that alone, and the 50 contestants selected for the Grease Academy include an African-American woman and a 42-year-old man.
As reality TV goes, this is a pretty family-friendly choice, as long as your tweens understand the nature of the competition. It's a good idea to explain that the judges' seemingly snap decisions are actually based on their expert assessments of potential, as well as background information about the contestants that's not available to viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the nature of competition. Why do people enter competitions? How do you prepare for them? Kids, what activities do you compete in? What do you gain from the experience? What does it mean to be a good sport? Why is it important? How do judges make their decisions? Do the judges on this show seem fair? Why? This show also offers a great opportunity to discuss appreciation of the arts and to take your family to a play or performance.