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 Rising Star is a singing competition that requires the use of the show's app to vote for or against contestants in real time. Voters must register via their Twitter or Facebook accounts and perform a virtual check-in before each performance they want to judge, and they can give their age-based consent to see their own profile pictures displayed on a singers' screen when they send over a "yes" vote. This raises issues of privacy you'll want to discuss with your teens if they plan to tune in. As with many reality competitions, a lot of time is devoted to the celebrity judges and host's rapport, and their reactions to lesser performances can be unkind. Ludacris in particular makes faces, feigns impatience, and sometimes gives a thumbs-down gesture. On the upside, as with any show like this one, it's a great reminder to never judge a person's worth by his or her appearance, as many performances surprise in a good way.
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What's the story?
In RISING STAR, singing hopefuls compete for real-time votes from audience members, home viewers, and a celebrity panel comprising Brad Paisley, Kesha, and Ludacris. Hosted by Josh Groban, the show has a twist on the standard vocal-contest format that puts contestants behind a giant wall that blocks their view from the audience and the judges. During each 90-second performance, viewers and the experts use the show's app to swipe a vote for or against the singer(s) as a gauge on-screen calculates the percentage of those votes falling in the contestant's favor. (Each "yes" vote from a celebrity panelist earns the contestant an additional seven percent.) If that number reaches the 70 percent mark, the wall rises, indicating to the singer that he or she is moving on to the next round.
Is it any good?
More than a decade ago, American Idol forever changed the nature of television by putting viewers in control of crowning a new pop-culture star. A lot has changed since then, and plenty of like-minded series have tried to match wits with the alpha show, but, despite new gimmicks at every turn, few stand the test of time. So seems the destiny of Rising Star, which suffers from a gracious but slightly awkward first-time host in Groban and three celebrity panelists who at times seem desperate for the spotlight themselves. This translates to far too much juvenile bantering among them and ridiculously dramatic reactions to the mediocre singers in particular, all of which seems like a ploy to kill time between performances.
Of course, many viewers will tune in just to see how the show manages real-time voting, and this does add a much-needed element of excitement to the otherwise mundane package. For those performers who hit the 70 percent mark, there's the instant gratification of seeing an adoring audience before them. For those who don't, it just makes the moment that much more uncomfortable given that they're sent packing a mere two minutes after they step onto the stage. As for viewers, because you must watch the show live to vote (and only those who vote stand the chance of seeing their profile pictures flash on the performers' walls), there's no chance of recording the show and taking part in the voting process. What's more, West Coast viewers' votes only matter for contestants who fail to move on in an earlier time zone, which makes for pretty anticlimactic reality TV for later viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of reality contests. Do you think this fad will ever die out? What accounts for continued attempts such as this one to ride the wave started by American Idol? Is there value to this kind of entertainment?
Teens: Do you think 90 seconds is adequate to accurately judge these contestants' talents? To what extent does physical appearance influence your assessment in that amount of time? Is it fair to incorporate that into your decision?
What do you make of the device-dependent voting process? Is it merely a sign of the times? How much time do your teens spend in front of a screen? What are the drawbacks to increased screen time?
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