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, after they see this upbeat, girl-centric reality series, young fans will probably want to make a pilgrimage to Broadway to see Legally Blonde on stage. Because contestants are auditioning with songs, dances, and dialogue from the musical, the show essentially functions as one long commercial for it. Still, even though the material leans heavily on girlish stereotypes, it ultimately offers young women a strong female role model who reminds us that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover -- especially if it's pink. Expect a few bleeped swear words and a bit of cattiness, but overall, this is tame for reality TV -- and, not incidentally, tamer than the movie the musical is based on, which is appropriate for teens and up.
What's the story?
In LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL: THE SEARCH FOR ELLE WOODS, 15 talented young women in their teens and 20s compete for the chance to sing, dance, and act the part of perky blonde sorority girl-turned-Harvard law student Elle Woods, a role originated by Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 film. But only one lucky contestant will win bragging rights to replace Tony Award nominee Laura Bell Bundy as the next Elle on Broadway (talk about the chance of a lifetime). Judges include the show's director, Jerry Mitchell; casting director Bernie Telsey; writer Heather Hach; and actor Paul Canaan. Shepherding the girls through the audition process is singer-actress Haylie Duff, who earned her Broadway chops in 2006 playing Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray.
Is it any good?
In terms of entertainment value, this show is sure to appeal to fans of Legally Blonde the musical, fans of musicals in general, and fans of the Legally Blonde movies -- in that order. But if you don't meet those criteria, you probably won't find it that interesting. You'll like it even less if you don't like the musical version, since most episodes consist of the contestants singing the same Legally Blonde song, dancing the same Legally Blonde, dance or acting out the same Legally Blonde scene over and over.
Unlike other talent-driven reality shows of its ilk, Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods doesn't waste any time airing footage of the untalented hopefuls who didn't make the cut during open auditions. Instead, it cuts right to the chase, narrowing 50 semi-finalists down to a pool of 10 finalists in minutes. In a way, it's a process that's as ruthless and unemotional as a real-life Broadway casting, making this one of the most realistic reality shows on the air. And for that, it probably deserves a standing ovation.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether watching the contestants go through the audition process changes the way they perceive Broadway stars in general. Were you surprised by the long rehearsals and grueling hours? Did some of the competitors handle the stress better than others? Do you think you'd have what it takes to make it in show business? Families can also discuss whether watching a TV show about Legally Blonde the musical makes them want to see it live. Do you think that's what the show's producers had in mind when they created it?