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 -- like many reality-show competitions -- this hairstyling series emphasizes personal conflict. Contestants insult one another in individual interviews, sometimes using derogatory names or curse words. Some face-to-face confrontations get snippy, too, as stylists insult one another's abilities during competitions. Some flirting occurs (sometimes between same-sex pairs), and one male competitor seems confused about his sexuality.
What's the story?
Following the standard reality-competition format, SHEAR GENIUS begins with a group of 12 hairdressers who live together and compete in a series of challenges judged by pros, battling for the chance to take home the top prize. Tasks include things like creating "hair art" -- in which contestants get 20 minutes to shop for supplies in a craft store and then two hours to create their masterpieces on models. The models later walk down the runway in front of the judges, and the familiar elimination process begins, complete with tense moments when host Jaclyn Smith draws out the seconds before announcing whether a stylist is safe or has met their "final cut."
Is it any good?
Just like in close cousin Project Runway and other shows of the same ilk, the contestants frequently get mean and catty. For example, during a trip to the craft store, one stylist sees another choosing feathers off a display and rushes in to grab them all before the first one knows what's happening. The camera catches a cruel shrug of the shoulders as the second stylist walks away triumphant.
While that kind of petty behavior certainly isn't good role modeling for younger viewers, it's also what makes Shear Genius fun to watch, in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. Parents who let their kids watch can use the opportunity to discuss the benefits of being kind to others, even in the face of competition.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of conflict-driven reality TV. Would these shows be as entertaining if everyone got along? How much of the conflicts viewers see on TV do you think is manufactured/encouraged by the folks behind the scenes? Do you have to be a certain kind of person to get on a reality TV show? Families can also discuss sportsmanship. Why do you think rules about sportsmanlike behavior exist? What's wrong with playing dirty? Do you think nice people tend to lose competitions more often? Can you think of examples of nice people winning, or mean people losing?