Parents' Guide to


By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Mentalists' acts are fascinating -- but dangerous.

TV NBC Reality TV 2007
Phenomenon Poster Image

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The mentalists' personalities are as varied as their supernatural specialties, which focus on paranormal abilities like ESP, levitation, mind control, and talking to the dead. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, chances are your heart will race when one of the performers reveals a series of random numbers he predicted or another puts a nail gun to his temple in a dangerous game of Russian roulette, staking his life on his ability to read inflections in an assistant's voice. For at-home doubters, host Tim Vincent pre-empts the inclination to cry "phony" with assurances that there are no retakes and absolutely no camera tricks involved. (Try to keep that in mind as you attempt to absorb what you're seeing!)

Phenomenon is mind-testing entertainment that thrill-seekers are sure to enjoy, but be careful about sharing it with young kids, as this isn't a family-friendly magic show with rabbits popping out of hats. Many of these acts are dangerous enough to be accompanied by multiple warnings against imitation (a man tests his pain tolerance by putting his hand in a bear trap, for example), and concepts like ESP and communicating with the dead may be frightening to kids and some tweens. If kids do watch, be prepared to answer their questions (to the best of your ability, that is!) about how illusions are created and tricks of this caliber are done. And it's worth repeating the warnings against trying the stunts, since the danger factor is often lost amid the audience's -- and viewers' -- excitement.

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