Model Employee

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Model Employee TV Poster Image
Modeling contest highlights catty behavior, humiliation.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Lip service is given to the importance of professionalism and having a good work ethic, but the real message that comes across is that women are naturally competitive with each other and that models are spoiled, superficial, and unwilling/unable to work hard.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The women are driven by the desire to win a lucrative modeling contract. Some of them believe that they are above doing the work that they are assigned, while others understand how to learn from each situation. Most of the women act in a competitive and catty manner and spoiled behavior is emphasized for the camera.


Arguments between the models are frequent. Some of the hotel jobs can be potentially dangerous if not done correctly.


The models are often visible in slinky outfits, bikinis, and lingerie. References (often crude) are made to breasts, genitals, and menstruation.


Words like "hell" and "ass" are audible; "f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped. References to contestants' mental capacity and other inappropriate comments are audible.


The MGM Mandalay Bay Hotel and brand is prominently featured and promoted. One of the judges is a spokesperson for Orbit gum.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking (wine, beer, champagne, cocktails) and cigarette smoking is visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Model Employee is a catty competition that features models working in menial jobs as a way to supposedly test their work ethic, but is really meant to be humiliating voyeurism for the audience. There's lots of sexy outfits, arguing, swearing, drinking, and cigarette smoking, which makes it very iffy viewing for younger viewers, and the messages about women competing with each other are unsavory for teens, too. Mandalay Bay Hotel is prominently featured; Orbit gum is occasionally mentioned.

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What's the story?

MODEL EMPLOYEE is a reality competition to find the face and spokeswoman of the MGM Mandalay Bay Hotel brand. Hosted by supermodel Chrissy Teigen, eight successful models who are used to being pampered arrive ready to pose for photo shoots, walk the catwalk, and flaunt their fashion savvy in hopes of landing the $100,000 contract. But they soon discover that in order to win, they must do all the resort's ground level jobs in order to understand the business from the bottom up. Each week they must successfully perform some of the hotel's grittiest behind-the-scenes tasks, like picking through trash for recyclables, scrubbing the shark pool, and washing thousands of dishes, in order to learn more about what goes into keeping the luxury hotel up and running. The panel of judges, including spokesmodel Vanessa Branch, marketing exec Jimmy Smith, and Mandalay Bay marketing VP Patrick Miller, assess the women according to their character, poise, and esteem. Those who perform the best get to participate in spokesmodeling events that let them show off their skills, while those on the bottom risk getting sent home. The final victor gets the contract and a substantial amount of training to represent her new client.

Is it any good?

Model Employee offers a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into running a luxury resort while highlighting the skills necessary to market it. It also underscores some of the high expectations many of today's employers place on their staff, like being well-informed about every aspect of their business in order to represent it, and acting professionally at all times. The importance of learning from one's mistakes and resolving them constructively is also discussed.

Like most reality modeling competitions, much of the show's focus is on the catty arguments between the women involved. Meanwhile, the models are often depicted as being spoiled, uneducated, and/or unable to cope with hard work outside of the modeling profession, which adds to the voyeuristic reality drama. The show does pause occasionally to acknowledge the hard and unglamorous work that many folks do every day, but these moments are eclipsed by the focus on the over-the-top behavior of the models.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the modeling profession. What are the different kinds of things models have to do to be good at their job? Do all models make a lot of money or live luxurious lifestyles? What are some of the stereotypes about models and the work they do? How do televised modeling competitions like this one contribute to (or challenge) these generalizations?

  • Why do you think so many TV shows pit women against each other? What messages do shows like this send to kids about how women behave and what they can expect from each other?

  • Why do you think these women agree to be on this show? What do they stand to gain or lose by appearing on TV? Do you think they are playing up the drama, or is what you see on this show realistic?

TV details

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