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 competitive reality show frequently features male and female models in various stages of undress, as well as frequent talk about looking sexy or "projecting sex." Models pose provocatively, sometimes in male-female combinations that suggest sexual acts. Hosts and agents constantly pick apart models' appearance, sometimes sharply criticizing a model's body or movement. Hosts give lip service to being healthy, but the show's emphasis on weight and body shape could encourage models (and some viewers) to try unhealthy avenues for changing their appearance. Contestants can be critical of each other and frequently talk about the competition.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MAKE ME A SUPERMODEL combines the eye candy of America's Next Top Model with the participatory experience of American Idol, but without the satisfaction of either. Fourteen models -- a mix of women and men -- live together in a posh New York City townhouse while competing for a single modeling contract with a top agency. In each episode, the models participate in photo shoots and runway shows under the watchful eye of hosts and (former) supermodels Niki Taylor and Tyson Beckford. The hosts -- as well as photographers, agents, and designers -- pick apart the models' bodies, personalities, abilities, and ambition. At the end of each episode, viewers vote off the weakest model from a group of three chosen by the judges.
Is it any good?
While the format of the show resembles ANTM in many ways, it's less contrived -- there are no elaborate challenges or forced heart-to-hearts -- but it's also less interesting. The occasional model stands out with a charming personality or sense of humor, but most fade into the background or exude only painful-to-watch desperation. Perhaps looking to infuse the show with more drama, silly issues are squeezed dry, such as when one contestant refuses to wear a thong on the runway.
In one-on-one interviews, contestants frequently talk about being competitive and their hopes that the others will fail. While this seems a natural instinct under the circumstances, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The focus on body image is also a concern. In a typical scene, the head of a New York modeling agency tells a model that her hips are large and she'll "have to watch that." Or a contestant is told to hide her ears when she meets clients because they stick out. These criticisms, as well as the many scenes of models prancing around in underwear, create an intense focus on physical appearance with a fairly negative tone. Teens won't gain any useful lessons from this program.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the profession of modeling and the effect of watching models on television. What's appealing about being a model? What do you think the downside is? How does the modeling industry impact society at large? Do you feel different about your body after watching a show about models? Do you notice how "strange" regular people's bodies look in comparison to the models'? What does that tell you?
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