Rip the Runway

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Rip the Runway TV Poster Image
Hip hop and fashion strut, with mixed results.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A variety of body sizes are on display ... but the women are still often treated as sexualized objects.

Violence

The featured music might occasionally mention violent acts, but that's not the focus of the show or the performances.

Sex

Some flirtatious/romantic behavior plays out on the runway, with occasional sexually suggestive actions. Models are often barely dressed or wear revealing clothing, especially during the swimwear portion.

Language

Words like "damn" and "hell" are used occasionally. Some music lyrics might get more explicit, but it's not common.

Consumerism

Way over the top -- advertisements are built into the show. Not only do the designers mention stores (like Macy's) where their clothes can be purchased, but backstage segments overtly advertise products like gum, T-shirts, and bras.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this hip-hop runway show is heavy on product placement. Advertorial segments include promotions for gum, bras, and T-shirts. While some male models appear, most of the models are women, and their bodies (in a range of sizes) are given lots of attention, especially during the swimwear portion. Some flirtation and sexually suggestive scenarios are briefly played out on the runway, like when a male performer stands behind a female model and thrusts his hips back and forth near her bottom.

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What's the story?

RIP THE RUNWAY is part fashion show, part live musical performance. Featuring new and established fashion designers and rap and R&B artists, the show focuses on clothes and music oriented toward the hip-hop lifestyle. Accompanied by lively background music, the models strut down the runway with a bounce in their step and often engage with the enthusiastic audience. It's a much more participatory experience than fashion shows in which the models are mere mannequins. The featured styles and clothes include a broader range of body types and sizes than the more traditional runway displays do, as in one episode when designers for full-figured men and women took center stage with their fabulously large models.

Is it any good?

Despite the show's low production values and amateur hosting, the runway segments can be quite entertaining to watch, especially for those with an interest in the industry. But on the downside, product placement is ridiculously blatant. While viewers might forgive some clothing-hawking during a fashion show (the hosts interview the designers after each segment and ask where their clothes are sold), the backstage mini-segments are really mini-advertisements. A host appears with a microphone -- as if to gather a group of models and industry types from amid the bustling scene -- and engages people in conversation about how fabulous Trident gum is, or how nicely Hanes T-shirts fit.

All in all, Rip the Runway is a mixed bag. The fashion and music are lots of fun, and teens interested in design and hip hop might enjoy dipping in and out of the show, especially since ultra-popular designer/rappers make appearances. Parents might be able to use the show as an opportunity to reinforce critical thinking skills as they relate to media -- and especially advertising.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the power of advertising. How aware of product placement are you? Have you found yourself wanting or craving something after seeing it on television? Do you think advertising that's embedded in shows -- rather than shown in separate commercials -- is more effective? Why or why not? Families can also discuss how this show portrays the hip hop lifestyle. Is it positive or negative? Why?

TV details

  • Premiere date: March 14, 2007
  • Network: BET
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG

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