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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Tensions run high during the auditions, and plenty of tears are shed when competitors are passed over by judges. But the tone is mostly positive, and the scouts' criticism includes constructive advice about how the performers can improve upon their talents. The series does stereotype competitors slightly by identifying them in terms of high school hierarchy: "prom king," "class clown," "honor student," "cheerleader," etc. The competitors are a diverse bunch.
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Host Nick Lachey plugs the show's Web site, encouraging viewers to log on and vote in weekly polls. The series heavily promotes High School Musical 3.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this reality series competition is inspired by Disney's ultra-popular High School Musical franchise, so kids are bound to be interested. It has a direct connection to the third movie (due in theaters Oct. 2008): The show's eventual winner will star in a music video to air during High School Musical 3's credits. All of that, plus host Nick Lachey's plugs for the show's Web site, may leave parents feeling a little over-sold on the whole package. That aside, the series shines the spotlight on talented youths from diverse walks of life, and overall the talent scouts are supportive and offer constructive criticism to competitors without belittling their efforts.
Is It Any Good?
This series essentially is a youthful version of American Idol, tricked out with all the brand-name trimmings of the HSM franchisee. Constant product references include clips from the first two films, snippets from the soundtracks, and cameos by the stars themselves, making the show feel more like a blatant promotional tool for the upcoming movie than a reality contest. If your kids are already flushed with HSM fever, they're not likely to complain about the build-up to the third movie, but you might be left wondering whether marketing execs ever take a holiday.
That said, the series does demonstrate the positive aspect of competitions like American Idol -- namely, giving average people from diverse backgrounds the chance to use their talent to change their lives. Some of the teens' stories are emotional and inspiring, and it's easy to get caught up in rooting for particular contestants. And as far as reality contests go, the fact that this one stars young performers means that the judges offer fewer nasty comments and more constructive criticism that the teens can build on for future success.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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