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 series -- like most Survivor-type reality shows -- is heavy on trash talking, greed, animosity, and back-stabbing (though, in a refreshing change, there's not as much product placement and sponsorship as usual). Players use bribery, theft, and tentative alliances to safeguard their positions within the game, and it's often difficult to discern their strategies. Female contestants frequently wear tight, low-cut shirts or bikini tops that reveal maximum cleavage.
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What's the story?
Reality TV takes to the open sea in PIRATE MASTER, a timber-shivering competition for aspiring Jack Sparrows. Contestants compete in trials of will and skill and follow treasure maps to buried gold, which accumulates over the course of the series to the winner's $1 million pot. After each challenge, the winning contestants elect a ship captain, who chooses two officers. Per pirate tradition, they divvy up the lion's share of the recovered gold and take up residence in a posh cabin below decks, while the remaining crew members are relegated to cramped bunks and have to take orders without question. At the end of each episode, the officers hand out summonses to the Pirate's Court; three of the summonses are marked with a black spot, indicating which players' fate is in jeopardy. After the unlucky trio defend themselves, the rest of the crew votes whether to eliminate one of them or band together to oust the captain. Whatever happens, the person eliminated is dramatically cut adrift (literally -- on a raft!) into the open sea.
Is it any good?
Yes, it bears a few too many similarities to Survivor (which, not coincidentally, is also produced by reality guru Mark Burnett), but for saltwater-veined fans, Pirate Master's celebration of all things swashbuckling gives it a fresh new spin that's a lot of fun.
But parents, avast: Human skeletons litter the treasure-hunt path (some impaled with weapons), lady pirates bare plenty of cleavage (who knew buccaneers wore bikinis?), and expletives like "ass" are always a potential hazard. All of that, mixed with typical reality fare like trash-talking and animosity, makes this best suited for older tweens and teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of reality TV shows. What about them is appealing? Does this particular contest seem juvenile in any way? Are the strained relationships among the players real, or does the editing make them more intense than they actually are? Are sneaky tactics like bribery, cheating, and lying necessary to win? What message does that send to viewers about competition?