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 British makeover show, like many American reality series, centers around a group of so-called misfits attempting to make themselves over into swans. In this case, a group of loud, party-loving British tomboys attempt to learn social graces through a series of "home-ec" challenges. While the show can be entertaining -- and the truth is that the contestants can use a bit of edge-polishing -- it raises some questions about the cultural definition of femininity and what it means to be a "lady."
What's the story?
In the British makeover series LADETTE TO LADY, a group of loud, promiscuous, party-loving young women enroll in finishing school, hoping to emerge as refined ladies (and win the grand prize, a sports car). The hard-living girls -- called \"ladettes\" in England because they behave more like \"lads\" than \"ladies\" -- go through a five-week course at Eggleston Hall that aims to change their bad habits. They wear tweed suits, heels, and pearl necklaces and are instructed in cooking, needlework, elocution, etiquette, and flower arranging. Also in each episode, the ladettes must complete a challenge, such as preparing a Swiss ski chalet for incoming guests or enrolling in a debutante ball. Needless to say, these challenges prove difficult, and the girls' shortcomings at executing them provide each episode's comedic fodder.
Is it any good?
Though the contestants are endearing (it's hard not to feel sorry for them when they fail at simple tasks like cooking and cleaning), most of them aren't exactly role models. One ladette has, by her estimation, slept with 100 men, and another owns up to being a binge drinker.
But some parents' eyebrows may be raised even higher by the show's central concept -- the idea that in order to be a good, proper woman, you need to dress conservatively and know how to sew. If nothing else, it might make for good discussion fodder with teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of makeover shows. Why do we like watching people get transformed on TV? Do all (or any) of the people on these shows need to be made over? Who decides what the ideal is when it comes to others' behavior, appearance, and dress? How is that ideal different for men and women? What tests would you use to "prove" that someone is a lady?