Reality Hell

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Reality Hell TV Poster Image
Over-the-top series pokes fun at wannabe reality stars.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some of the pranks seem to go too far; many of those being pranked appear foolish.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the hopeful reality stars go to great lengths to tolerate iffy behavior and/or participate in ridiculous/humiliating challenges in order to win what they believe is a real competition. Their persistence isn't a bad thing, but their willingness to abase themselves (and the show's willingness to do it) doesn't set the best example.

Violence

Arguments and catfights are frequent; actors also pretend to be physically assaulting each other. One episode requires actors/contestants to sit in an electric chair and get shocked.

Sex

Some very strong sexual innuendo, including references to homosexuality. Extremely suggestive images (including posing for racy modeling "photo shoots," etc.). The term “ho” is used in at least one episode. Women are seen in bikinis; men are seen shirtless and in tight bathing suits. Nudity (bare buttocks) is fully blurred.

Language

Words like “ass," “crap," “pissed," and “bitch” are audible and used frequently. Stronger choices, like “f--k” and “s--t,” are bleeped.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Possibility for alcohol consumption.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this spoofy reality series subjects participants to exaggerated versions of typical reality TV scenarios, some of which include yelling, screaming, simulated physical assaults, and more. Expect lots of sexual content -- including references to "screwing," homosexuality, and various sexual practices (though nudity is blurred) -- and strong language (words like “crap," “ass," “damn,” and “bitch” are audible; “f--k” and “s--t” are bleeped).

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What's the story?

In reality TV spoof REALITY HELL, participants are set up to think that they're on their way to stardom. In each episode, new targets are led to believe that they're going to be featured in shows about everything from a modeling competition to a cooking challenge or a wife swap. Actors stand in as "typical" reality characters, including crazy judges and over-the-top contestants. Viewers then get to watch the unsuspecting targets react to an endless array of wacky schemes, all of which have been specifically designed to confuse, mortify, or even scare them. Then, just when it seems that things can't get any worse, the actors reveal the truth.

Is it any good?

In order to poke maximum fun at the kind of people who are willing to do or put up with almost anything for their moment in the reality spotlight, the show exaggerates traditional reality show moments and tends to really push the envelope when it comes to sexual innuendo, language, and confrontations. In fact, some of the behavior (like posing in extremely suggestive modeling poses and shocking people sitting in electric chairs) is so extreme that it's just as bad as -- if not worse than -- the reality shows it's trying to parody.

Viewers might find themselves stifling a chuckle when watching the unsuspecting contestants navigate their way through these well-orchestrated pranks. But the show also offers, perhaps unintentionally, an uncomfortable commentary about this country’s obsession with reality television and the behavior that viewers have come to expect from those who appear on them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what inspires people to appear on reality shows. Do they really think that they'll become famous, or is it the prizes?

  • Are the show's pranks performed to make a point, or are they just for fun? When does a prank go too far?

  • Does this show perpetuate any stereotypes, either of people in general or specific kinds of reality TV "types"?

TV details

  • Premiere date: August 16, 2009
  • Network: E!
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-14

For kids who love reality TV

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