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Planet of the Apps

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Planet of the Apps TV Poster Image
Aspiring app makers seek celeb help in dull reality show.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The contestants are often hard-working and committed to their projects; the series sends the message that achieving goals takes perseverance. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the developers have noble intentions behind their apps and seem sincere, like the college friends who came up with an app aimed at helping to keep fellow classmates safe on campus. The developers all seem to be putting in long hours and working hard at what they believe in (whether it's worth it or not is uncertain).

Violence
Sex

A few of the judges point out that one of the apps being pitched -- an event-based dating app -- may have the unexpected potential side effect of enabling sexual harassment.

Language

Profanity, including "s--t, is bleeped. 

Consumerism

This is one big ol' commercial for Apple. It's a show about apps, you have to watch the show within Apple's Music app, the budding app developers have their pitches rejected or approved by judges using a prominently displayed iPad, and viewers are encouraged to go download the apps mentioned on the show in Apple's app store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Planet of the Apps is tech company Apple's first foray into TV production, and Apple products are prominently featured throughout. The show is a tech-tinged hybrid of Shark Tank and The Voice, where a panel of four celebrities vote hear pitches from app creators hoping to be mentored by said celebs, and ultimately to earn a meeting with a venture capital firm and potentially win 10 million dollars in funding. The apps discussed can vary in subject matter from dating to home décor and more. Some of the judges can get abrasive in their critiques (there are a couple of bleeped swear words). The participants are continually using tech and business world terms and abbreviations, which are defined for the viewer via on-screen pop-ups. There's not a lot here to interest a kid (especially younger kids), but older teens with Silicon Valley aspirations may find it worth a glance.

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What's the story?

PLANET OF THE APPS is a reality show competition that marks Apple's debut as a TV content creator. The show is available to view via their Music app. A panel of judges -- including actresses/business owners Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, artist/"idea generator" will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas, and entrepreneur/author Gary Vaynerchuk -- sit with studiously blank faces as contestants spend 60 nerve-wracking seconds pitching their app concepts. In a twist on the "elevator pitch", the show has contestants give their speeches while riding down a giant silver escalator. At the end of each escalator ride, the judges whip out their iPads and vote to give a green light or red light to the project. As long as one of the four judges gives a green light, the contestant is invited to explain a bit more about their pitch, which gives them an opportunity to field questions and try to convince reluctant judges to change their vote from a red to green. If a judge feels particularly passionate about one of the concepts, they may team up and mentor the app creator and help them prepare to pitch to a venture capital firm for a chance at real funding (as in, millions). The winning app will also receive front page placement in Apple's App Store.

Is it any good?

Apple is a titan of tech, and they've long been lauded for their forward thinking and beautiful aesthetics -- unfortunately, neither is on display in their inaugural TV show. The best gimmick they have is the corny "escalator pitch", and watching the developers descend from it while begging for cash inspires more secondhand embarrassment than anything. There's a strange filming conceit used here as well, where instead of just focusing on the journey of these entrepreneurs and making sure that's interesting to the viewer, we're treated to "behind the scenes" fluff like a soundstage bell ringing and shots of the camera operators working between scenes. It's an odd choice that doesn't add much.

The real missed opportunity is that Planet of the Apps fails to let viewers know who these app developers are as human beings. Good reality shows know we need some back story, we need to learn more about these people -- What drives them?  What inspires them? Here, we've been given a competition without anyone to really root for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes someone a good mentor. Are the judges on Planet of the Apps known more for their entertainment careers or for their business acumen? Do you think they give good advice to the contestants they're paired up with? Why or why not?

  • For kids: Have you ever had an idea for an app? What would it be called, and what would it do? Does Planet of the Apps give you any ideas about how you would market your creation?

TV details

For kids who love reality TV

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