Monster Garage

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Monster Garage TV Poster Image
Hot rod builders rev up the car-rehab genre.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Demonstrates the results of hard work, determination, and teamwork.


One episode addressed crimes that the prisoner builders had committed, but there were no details. Sparks fly frequently in the shop.


A fair amount of bleeped cursing.


Car makes are mentioned regularly. One episode was sponsored by Chevrolet, and a builder made a very positive comment about Chevys during the show.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The prison episode mentions crimes related to drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this car rehab show is one of the more original series in its reality TV subgenre. Star/host Jesse James is rough-looking and affects a tough-guy persona, but his kind actions belie his exterior. He works with a different group in each episode, from little people to convicts. Overall the show demonstrates that hard work can be satisfying and that you can turn a pleasure into a profession. James and the other car builders curse occasionally, and though most of the words are bleeped, many are obvious.

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What's the story?

In MONSTER GARAGE, self-made businessman/auto fabricator Jesse James transforms everyday vehicles into stylish, souped-up machines with the help of an ever-changing team of builders. One week he might turn a pickup truck into a gorilla transport with a group of animal experts and the next week work with a team of Folsom Prison convicts to rehab an old Chevy. Each episode includes profiles of the different members of the build tea -- for the Folsom Prison build, for example, the bios included the crimes the men were convicted of, as well as the length of their sentence. This unique approach to the car-rehab genre brings different personalities to each show, which keeps things fresh. Jesse's charisma -- mixed with a heart of gold inside a scrubby, tattooed, tough-guy exterior -- makes the rest of the show come together.

Is it any good?

Monster Garage is one of the few shows of its kind that works with a limited budget, which adds a rougher, more do-it-yourself feel to the builds. And with its attention-getting camerawork and dramatic music, the show will probably keep teens' attention better than other similar series. That said, some cheesy staged moments detract from the episodes, and less attention is paid to math and engineering skills here than in shows like American Hot Rod and Biker Build-Off. But props are given for hands-on talents like welding and wiring. For people interested in cars, motorcycles, or anything mechanically oriented, this series can be a fun diversion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about people's fascination with cars. Why do people -- particularly Americans -- go so crazy about their cars? What's the appeal of working on cars, either to fix them up or really trick them out? Do teens have a favorite car? If so, what's so great about it? Families can also talk about turning passions into profit. Is there anything you enjoy doing that you might be able to turn into a career? How would you go about it?

TV details

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