Hot Set

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Hot Set TV Poster Image
Hollywood set design competition has a few violent images.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series highlights the creativity and technical skills necessary for creating good film and TV production sets. The competition aspect is fairly low key. Some bickering between workers.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The judges offer supportive comments and constructive criticism to set designers. The designers are mostly hard-working and professional, though they occasionally argue with others.


Sets are built for story lines relating to serial killers and other violent themes. Bones, monsters, and other potentially frightening props are used. Occasionally team members bicker, but there's nothing violent.


Occasional curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped.


Prop rental shops and local vendors are featured.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the competition series Hot Set featuring production designers creating Hollywood sets for a cash prize is pretty tame. But some of the set designs revolve around violent stories (like kidnapping and serial killing) and incorporate props like bones, dead people, and other potentially scary images. Teammates sometimes bicker; occasional curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are bleeped.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byallanco November 3, 2012

Hot Set: Just Movie Sets or a Lesson in Life?

I believe that the other reviewer was somewhat shortsighted in her appraisal of Hot Set.
I discovered the season opener by accident. As a film lover, I was enga... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

HOT SET is a competition show that features production designers attempting to successfully design and build camera-ready Hollywood sets for a cash prize. Each episode, which is hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, features two designers who, along with their teams, must create an entire world based on brief hints from a script. A special clue is also offered to help them understand the story that the set must convey to an audience. After three days of designing, building, and working with props and special effects, a scene must be filmed on each set to see how the designs work on camera. After the panel of judges, including award-nominated production designers Curt Beech, Lilly Kilvert, and Barry Robison, closely examines their work, a winner is selected and awarded $10,000.

Is it any good?

Hot Set showcases the creative and technical work that goes into creating a "hot set" (a set that is fully built and camera-ready) that conveys a sense of emotion while seamlessly helping to tell a story. It also shows some of the various ways that production designers achieve the looks and effects that they want by using specialty props, lights, and even basic household items.

The designers and the judges use lots of terms that are common in set production, making the experience seem closely connected to the behind-the-scenes world of Hollywood sound stages. As a result, folks who are interested in this sort of thing will feel like they are learning something about the profession while watching. But the show's real entertainment value comes from seeing how a small empty space can be transformed into a magical story world.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about careers in set design. Are set designers artists? Engineers? When you watch t.v. or films, do you pay attention to the set design?


  • What are some of your favorite film and movie backgrounds? What is it about these designs that make them noticeable? Did they feel real? Magical? Scary?

  • How do the set designers and their team members work together? What leadership styles seem the most effective? Why do you think the designers agreed to be on a show like this?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality shows

Themes & Topics

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