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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Making It is a gentle reality crafting competition that's ideal for whole-family viewing. Parents need not fear their children seeing any messages about sex, drugs, or drinking, any violence, or hearing any rough language. Instead, a group of diverse contestants undertake easygoing competitions in which their efforts and creativity are praised, with a lot of attention paid to their methods in a way that can inspire viewers to try their hand at crafts like sewing, woodworking, paper crafting, and so on. Hosts treat participants with kindness and genuine interest in their work and lives, judges offer sincere praise and only gentle criticisms. One competitor leaves each week, and the last crafter eliminated wins $100,000, but as Offerman says, the cash isn't given a lot of focus because "the best reward is a job well-done."
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What's the story?
On reality competition MAKING IT, hosts Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler guide a team of diverse makers through crafting challenges, two on each show: a quick challenge, followed by a longer and more elaborate challenge. Using the mediums of wood, fabric, paper, and paint, the crafters create artworks in front of the viewers' eyes, to be judged by noted crafting-world creatives Dayna Isom Johnson and Simon Doonan. One competitor is eliminated on each episode, and the last one standing will be the Master Maker, with full bragging rights and a $100,000 prize.
Is it any good?
Like a sweeter and more relatable Project Runway, this reality competition puts the focus on crafting and the makers who create hand-made art. Making It is clearly modeled after Project Runway: Amy and Nick are Tim Gunn, Simon and Dayna are Heidi and Zac Posen, the quick-challenge-followed-by-extended-challenge-followed-by-one-contestant-ousting is the Runway pattern. But this series is just a little kinder and more positive: while Runway contestants are frequently criticized harshly, even brought to tears, here effort and creativity is praised, and criticisms are mild (if spot-on).
Competition is also downplayed, and there's more of a focus on how the creators are making what they're making. While the makers are busy creating their objects, Poehler and Offerman wander around to ask them about what they're making and why, often cutting to photographs of the maker's other creations, or breaking into animated graphics that show how something is made: a flat-lay of all the fabric that goes into a felt unicorn head, a demonstration of how a woodworking tool creates an effect. As Poehler points out when examining a corrugated-cardboard-and-marker detail on one paper sculpture, seeing how something is made, being able to see the materials that went into it, can make even a non-crafty person imagine she could do something similar. And that's Making It's own unique artistry: it entertains by not only showing you talent, but by demonstrating that you can do it too -- that is, after you're done binging this pleasant diversion of a series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's interesting to watch things being made. What is it about watching an artist create an artistic work that's compelling to watch? Besides getting ratings, would there be other reasons that a network might want to air a show like Making It? What products might be sold on advertising attached to such a show?
Families can also talk about how Making It contestants show perseverance and teamwork in their art and their lives. Why are these important character strengths? Does being a worthy competitor mean foregoing any gestures of cooperation?
What makes an artistic creation memorable and worthwhile? What role does the media have in making this determination? What are some of the ways the media markets things to make them seem trendy?
Look up some of the past contestants from reality competitions. Does it appear as though being on these shows helped their careers? Do winners do better than those who didn't win? Does it look to be worthwhile to compete on such a show?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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