Oprah's Big Give
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Charity-minded series puts heart in reality TV.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show promotes charitable work and demonstrates how rewarding it can be to help someone in need. Some personal stories of financial and emotional struggles (dealing with the loss of a spouse or enduring war injuries, for example) may affect sensitive viewers. Competitors are eliminated weekly for failing to impress the judges with their fundraising efforts, contestants occasionally put down their peers' work, and, as deadlines loom, tensions can rise among teammates.
Violence & Scariness
Some participants have encountered violence (physical/sexual abuse, gun violence, war injuries, and the like) and give general details of their experiences.
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Products & Purchases
Corporate donors like Target, Chase Bank, and United Airlines get screen time for their contributions.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the participants in this reality series compete to improve others' lives with no knowledge of any personal monetary gain. That positive message of giving makes this show a family-friendly choice as reality shows go, but kids may need further explanation about the judging and elimination process and why contestants are sent home after working so hard for charity. Some of the needy folks' stories -- which are full of hardship and challenge -- may affect sensitive viewers. Don't be surprised to see a fair number of corporate donors' logos pop up, either.
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What's the Story?
OPRAH'S BIG GIVE challenges a group of do-gooders to out-give each other in a series of charitable assignments that benefit an array of people in need. Produced by media mogul Oprah Winfrey, the show starts with 10 hand-selected contestants; each week, a panel of three celebrity judges weighs in on the competitors' dedication, creativity, and fundraising efforts and eliminates one from the running. Unbeknownst to the participants, the eventual winner will claim not only the title of Biggest Giver, but also a $1 million prize of his or her own.
Is It Any Good?
The good news is that this series puts some heart into the typically selfish, back-biting world of reality TV. The focus here is on helping others, and it's clear from the get-go that the competitors are excited and driven to do what they can to better the lives of those they're assigned to help. And since the monetary prize is kept secret until the series' end, there's no reason to doubt the participants' dedication to the cause.
On the flipside, though, it can be disappointing to watch contestants' best charitable efforts deemed inadequate by the judges, and kids who don't grasp the full nature of the show may be confused by the elimination process. Plus, some of the stories of hardship (losing a loved one, surviving war, and being homeless, for example) may also be difficult for very young or sensitive viewers to understand, so be sure you're ready to answer any questions they have.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how series like this one can inspire change. Are they as much fun to watch as other, more competitive reality shows? Why or why not? Were you touched by the stories you heard from the charity recipients? Did they make you take a look at your own situation and see what you can do to help others? What are the benefits of giving back?
- Premiere date: March 2, 2008
- Cast: Jamie Oliver, Malaak Compton-Rock, Oprah Winfrey
- Network: ABC
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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