Hot Set TV Poster Image

Hot Set

Hollywood set design competition has a few violent images.

What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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


Prop rental shops and local vendors are featured.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Kids say

Not yet rated
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.

Families can talk 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

Premiere date:September 18, 2012
Cast:Ben Mankiewicz, Curt Beech
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Arts and dance
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of Hot Set was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 engaged almost immediately. As a psychologist, I found many valuable features. Aside from informing viewers of the considerable work that takes place behind the films we see, it is a lesson in balancing creativity and innovation with practicality, operating within time and fiscal limits. It shows set designers working--harmoniously for the most part--with their team members. There are disagreements, but they have not been distasteful. Valuable tips are given during a judge's walk- through. Some designers ignore the advice and lose. Others are guided by their faith in their concepts and win. There is a lesson in discriminating sound advice here for everyone. Looking beyond the obvious, Hot Set demonstrates the value of creativity, the need for practicality (the time and budget), and the capacity for a people to work together towards a common goal. Yes, there are bleeps. This is to be expected and far less distasteful than the language (and violence) that children hear and violence they see on TV and in theaters. I have seen all the shows and never saw some of the extreme and distasteful reactions and behaviors I witnessed on, for example, Face Off, where one judge appears to have been influenced by Simon Cowell and there are far too many contestants. A personal challenge my wife and share is to pick the winners before the judges announce them. This adds even more fun to the show. So far, we have a perfect score, focusing almost completely on the short film clip of the final set in use. Overall, this is a fun show to watch for adults and children (13+) and adults. Enjoy the creation of another reality, but don't lose sight of its being a model of life in general with all of its challenges, rewards, frustrations, and need to work together.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models