What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Raising Asia centers on a talented 8-year-old dancer who's working full-time to achieve her dream of becoming a pop star. Though she's only a kid, she's already body-conscious and typically wears full makeup (including fake eyelashes and hair extensions) every time she's on camera -- not just for dance performances. Her choreography also contains mature moves that are heavily sexualized, and some of her outfits are pretty skimpy. Audible language includes words such as "crap," "piss," and "bitch," and there are some visible corporate logos.
What's the story?
Dance phenom Asia Monet Ray (Dance Moms, Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition) takes center stage in the spin-off RAISING ASIA, a reality series chronicling her family's efforts to shape her into the next pop superstar. The talented 8-year-old's dream team includes her former model mom, Kristie, her former body-builder dad, Shawn, and her manager, Billy Hufsey (a former teen star known for his work on the 1980s dance drama Fame). But Asia's choreographer, Anthony, wants to steer her away from "little-kid time" and into the big time.
Is it any good?
By now, we've accepted the fact that most "reality" series are anything but -- although that doesn't make Raising Asia's self-absorbed cast any less tiresome. From a cocky child who declares that all her male backup dancers must have six-packs to parents who have no problems with their 8-year-old smacking adult dancers' abs with a whip, the Rays, as a whole, are role models you can really live without. You have to wonder, too, whether they'll eventually look back on the show with a sense of shame or pride.
For families with young children -- particularly little girls with an interest in dance -- the most troubling aspect of Raising Asia is the family's comfort level with marketing their 8-year-old as a fully mature woman, complete with body-conscious outfits and sexually charged choreography that, by Asia's own simplistic descriptions, it's clear she doesn't fully understand. The Rays' goal is to make Asia into a mega-star, but is fame really worth the cost of what they're losing in the process?
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the message Raising Asia sends young children -- especially girls -- about beauty, body image, and fame. How important are looks when you want to be a star? How does Asia compare to other 8-year-olds you know?
How involved should parents be in their children's extracurricular activities -- and where's the line? Does Asia's mom go too far, or is she simply doing what she has to do to make her daughter's dreams come true?
What sacrifices are Asia and her family making to help her achieve her career goals -- and is the cost worth it? What are the pros and cons of being (and raising) a child star?