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Reality Bites Back
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 even though this reality show spoof is aimed at adults (albeit young ones), teens will probably want to watch. But it's a pretty iffy choice. The sexual content, in particular, is quite crude. In one challenge, for example, contestants are sent into a blackened room to seduce an unknown person ... who turns out to be one of their parents. Before they find out who they're actually talking to, the contestants say things like "I just want to kiss you between the legs … you're so sexy." Talk about awkward! Strong language flies freely, too, although words like "f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped.
What's the story?
In REALITY BITES BACK, host Michael Ian Black (an actor-comedian famous for his quips on VH1's I Love the ... series and NBC's Ed) herds a group of 10 unknown comics through an elimination-style boot camp of eight reality show parodies. As part of the process, they're crowded into a house Big Brother-style, asked to perform extreme athletic stunts a la American Gladiators, and even made to drive around in a van that advertises "Free Cigarettes for Kids!" in a send-up of The Amazing Race. At the end of each episode, someone gets sent home; by the end of the series, someone else gets some cash -- and the dubious honor of being the best at enduring endless humiliation.
Is it any good?
Black's deadpan humor is a great fit for this gig, and it's especially funny when he conducts exit interviews with each contestant, complete with dramatic lighting and emotional music. The idea of using real comedians as the participants is also a plus; not only does it add an element of absurdity to the proceedings, but it also ensures that the "confessional"-style interview clips are going to be quote-worthy. Like this gem: "I just want to clear up that I don't just go around abusing marijuana. I drink a lot, too." Or this one: "When the lights came on and there was my dad, that boner went away pretty quick."
Obviously, this isn't kid-friendly programming, and you have to wonder how long the joke can drag on. But in an atmosphere of ever-skewed "reality," Reality Bites Back may be a welcome change for weary viewers. While it's true that the show is ridiculous, is it any more ridiculous than most of the "legitimate" reality show competitions out there?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this over-the-top spoof adds something new to an already saturated reality TV market or merely makes things worse. Does the show make fun of any of your favorite reality programs? Which ones? Did watching these parodies make you feel any differently about shows you already enjoy? Do you think the show is trying to make a particular point?