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Newport Harbor: The Real Orange County
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 reality series is a spin-off of MTV's popular Laguna Beach -- and it's pretty much the same show, just with new faces and a slightly different coastline. The privileged teenage cast members live in an upscale Southern California community, and their lives revolve around the social dynamics of their friendships and dating relationships. Keep an eye out for behavior like back-stabbing, jealousy, and lying, as well as possible implied drinking and other "partying." Parents are portrayed as either indulgent or overprotective to the point of being overbearing.
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What's the story?
Following in the footsteps of hit MTV docusoap Laguna Beach, NEWPORT HARBOR: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY centers on a group of privileged teens as they ride the waves of their high school years. The series is narrated by Chrissy, a somewhat naïve senior who's enjoying her final months before college with her friends. Within her inner circle are best friend Sasha, wealthy Grant, good-looking-but-shy Clay, flirtatious friends Allie and Chase, and Taylor is a sophomore who joins the group after dating some of its male members. The cast members' conversations usually range from talking about who's hot and who's not to who's dating whom. Chrissy has had a crush on Clay for years, but her ability to have a relationship is continuously compromised by her suspicions that others in the group are competing for his attention. Grant and Chase constantly vie over Taylor, while Allie seems to want all the guys' attention for herself.
Is it any good?
Unlike on Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor viewers actually get to see some of the kids' parents in action. Unfortunately, Chrissy's parents -- especially her father -- are portrayed as overprotective and somewhat overbearing. Meanwhile, other parents don't seem to set any limits for their kids, instead offering them credit cards and watching them set out in their expensive cars to join their friends.
It may strike many older viewers as ironic that this "reality" series presents a very unrealistic look at teen life in America: It revolves around a perfect neighborhood full of perfect-looking kids who are surrounded by wealth and privilege. While the teens themselves aren't bad kids, they don't have much to offer except their looks and their mild soap operatic dramas. While this may be appealing to the MTV crowd, it doesn't make the show particularly interesting to watch for anyone outside the target demographic. And those in the demo may need to be reminded that this isn't what to expect from high school.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about American teenage life. How accurate do you think TV portrayals of teens and their lives are? Which parts of the "TV teen" lifestyle are appealing, and which ones aren't? Families can also discuss relationships between parents and teens. Should parents know everything about their teens at all times? When are parents being too overprotective? Lastly, families can talk about what's important in their lives vs. what seems to be important to the teens on the show. What do these kids value? Why?