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, while this extreme stunt series isn't as crude as Jackass and its ilk, many of the tricks look so easy and fun that kids might be inspired to follow suit, which could lead to injuries. The show offers little explanation or commentary -- just shot after shot of young men (and they're almost all men) flying over ramps, shooting down precarious water slides, flipping their motorcycles, and doing any other crazy tricks they can come up with. Some are truly death-defying (leaping from a plane with no parachute), while others are just silly (rolling off a ramp on a wheeled office chair) -- but most end in spills and crashes. The group's surprisingly low injury rate is a testament to their skills, not a sign that kids will be fine if they follow suit.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
For Travis Pastrana, being a professional freestyle motocross rider is more than just a job, it's a lifestyle. He makes his living performing incredible flips, jumps, and other tricks on his motorcycle -- and, as NITRO CIRCUS shows, he and his friends spend most of their downtime at his compound practicing more of the same. The series wastes little time on the petty bickering and introspective discussions that are so common on other reality shows; it's all action, lots and lots of amazing/outrageous/dangerous action.
Is it any good?
The show stars with a standard disclaimer: The performers are trained athletes, and viewers shouldn't try to imitate them. Pastrana and his friends crash more often than they succeed, but for all the painful-looking spills, there are surprisingly few injuries, and there's plenty of laughter all around. The result is that Nitro Circus makes practicing difficult, dangerous stunts look like a Saturday afternoon party at Pastrana's house ... which seems like exactly the mood that could make young people want to spend their own free time copying them, with potentially disastrous results.
Plus, with little narration or discussion, Nitro Circus seems less like a program and more like a highlight reel. Sure, some of these feats are truly impressive, but they'd have more impact if there was some explanation about why they're so difficult. And many of the tricks are just plain goofy -- rolling off a huge ramp in a wheeled office chair, for example, or doing flips on tricycles. Pastrana and his posse are clearly having plenty of fun filming themselves, but watching Nitro Circus isn't nearly as entertaining as creating it seems to be.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different kinds of TV stunts. Stunts are a longtime staple of action dramas, but they're generally carefully planned and executed with plenty of safety gear. But shows like this highlight stunts that seen to involve neither planning nor safety. Which looks more exciting? Why? Which seem more "real" or more dangerous?
Are stunts more fun to watch if have more potential danger? Why?
Does watching this show make you want to try some of the tricks? Do you think that's partly the point, despite the show's disclaimer?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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