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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 commercialism is a major component of the show and is basically an advertisement for Seventeen magazine. Product sponsors and MTV programs are featured prominently. Although the purpose of the show is to find a young female role model to put on the cover of Seventeen, drama often overshadows the message. One character has a breakdown onscreen. Another tells a story about her father's arrest and conviction of drug dealing and manslaughter.
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What's the story?
In the same vein as The Apprentice and America's Next Top Model, MISS SEVENTEEN features seventeen young girls competing against one another to win the title of \"Miss Seventeen.\" The purpose of the show is to find a girl who will be a good role model to Seventeen's readers. All of the girls are college students ranging in age from 18-21 and are highly accomplished in both academics and extra-curricular activities. The winner will receive an internship at the magazine, a modeling contract, and a spot on the cover.
Is it any good?
Every week the girls are broken into teams to compete against one another in tasks usually involving creating magazine layouts. In the first episode, the seventeen contestants are whittled down to ten, and in each episode that follows one more is eliminated. Unbeknownst to the girls, they are constantly being filmed, and Seventeen's editor-in-chief, Atoosa Rubenstein, can see how they behave at all times. This fact is only revealed to them once they are eliminated. The reasoning behind this is that a girl's personality and ability to get along with others are just as important as her accomplishments.
Although Miss Seventeen has a lot in common with America's Next Top Model, the criteria for winning this contest goes far deeper than physical appearance. That being said, like most reality shows, Miss Seventeen does reduce the contestants to "characters" and seems more interested in promoting its sponsors and playing up the drama, rather than celebrating the young women's accomplishments. Young girls and teens are sure to be drawn to this show. Parents might want to downplay the forced narrative aspect of the program and instead emphasize the contestants' ambition and accomplishments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a good role model. On the show, the girls' academic success and awards were integral to their selection as contestants. Now they are being judged, not only on their performance in competitions, but also on their day-to-day conduct. Is this fair -- why or why not? Does the show reinforce stereotypes about women (i.e. whenever you have many girls in tight quarters, drama and cattiness always ensue)? Families may also want to talk about how "real" reality TV is. Is it fair to assume that the actions of the girls featured on the show are an accurate portrayal of who they really are?