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 MTV reality show is all about twentysomethings looking for sex and relationships. Most of the action occurs on the beach, when cast members aren't wearing very much. Everyone on the show is very thin and/or athletically built, showing a very limited range of body shapes. The dialogue and action is almost exclusively focused on pursuing casual sex, discussing the attractiveness of potential mates, and planning parties. Friends sometimes betray each other, and people generally treat one another poorly.
What's the story?
From the producers of Laguna Beach comes MAUI FEVER, which chronicles the lives of a group of real twentysomething friends who live and work on the titular Hawaiian island. With its focus on sex, parties, and interpersonal drama, the show is a grown-up version of its California counterpart. The set-up is this: A bunch of hot-bodied beach rats hook up, break up, surf, and party. The guys, who are surf instructors, waiters, or resort-industry lackeys, scope out vacationing "hotties" and invite them to their nightly parties, hoping to have sex and then wave good-bye to the women as they catch their flights back home. The female cast members, meanwhile, have basically the same intentions, though they tend to focus their emotional games on the guys within their small group rather than island visitors.
Is it any good?
MTV has perfected the unnerving reality show style of creating dramatic scenes out of real events. Rather than using the observational style of Real World or Survivor, Maui Fever often feels like a scripted drama. Participants play out scenes like actors, with close-ups, soundtracks, and sound bites. Though the dialogue (being "real") is less cheesy than that of some truly scripted dramas (like Falcon Beach and Monarch Cove), it's consistently inane ("We should all just be single and party!").
While Maui Fever might be a realistic (if overprocessed) look into a very specific segment of the population, it isn't an especially revealing one. Teens obsessed with boyfriend/girlfriend dynamics might find some of their experiences reflected in the show, but with its emphasis on Caucasian, attractive, thin, superficial characters, Maui Fever provides a warped (and often pathetic) look at these people's lives. Also, while the men and women on the show are supposedly of legal drinking age, their party-centric behavior is so similar to that of high schoolers that many teens won't be able to keep the distinction clear.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendships and relationships. Do you think you treat your friends well? Have you ever felt bad about the way you treated a friend or a significant other? Is it OK to date several people at a time? What does it mean to date responsibly? Families may also be able to use the show as a catalyst to talk about important issues like sex. Does a show like this trivialize sex? Would anyone want to watch it if the cast members weren't hooking up all the time? Why or why not?