Signed

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Signed TV Poster Image
Music moguls help develop aspiring hip-hop hopefuls.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Shows the struggle of young people trying to make it in the hip-hop/R&B world, and highlights some of the more negative traits that can be associated with the musical culture and reality shows in general, from sexist expectations to all-around cattiness (among all genders).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some contestants show a genuine passion for music and performing, while others seem a bit delusional and ego-driven -- a combination of personalities clearly orchestrated by producers to cause the most on-screen arguments. There's a lot of sexism on display as the "moguls" (especially self-professed luxury lover Rick Ross) advise the contestants while being massaged by women, and ask the young musicians to perform for them onstage at a strip club.

Violence

Some intense screaming between contestants at times.

Sex

Some contestants talk about using their sexuality to get ahead, and make a concerted effort to always be wearing revealing outfits. The contestants are taken to a strip club and encouraged to toss money on the dancers and perform onstage. One contestant reveals that she formerly worked as an exotic dancer.

Language

A good amount of raw language (both offstage and within some of the lyrics). Most of the harsher words are bleeped including "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Like his pal Puff Daddy, hip-hop mogul Rick Ross is "all about the Benjamins" and takes an aspiring performer on a shopping spree, stressing to her that she needs to always look the part and seek out the finer things in life. The focus is less on the actual music and more on what a lucrative career can buy you.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some party scenes with drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Signed is a music-based reality show about competing performers hoping to break into the hip-hop/R&B scene. Some of the lyrics are very aggressive, and contestants come from all kinds of backgrounds: One is a valedictorian turned exotic dancer, another is a young dad who performs shirtless. This being showbiz, there's a big emphasis on image, and contestants are critiqued for their appearance as well as their music. There's some definite sexist showboating on display, like when one of the judges, Rick Ross, advises the young hopefuls while an attractive masseuse stands behind his chair rubbing his shoulders and head. There are screaming matches amongst the contestants, and a scene where they perform inside a strip club, where drinking and tossing money around is shown.

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What's the story?

SIGNED is VH1's new entry into the musical competition/reality show genre, and it aims to find the hottest new talent in the hip-hop/R&B genre. Contestants from all over the country come to Atlanta and step into a recording booth, hoping to impress the show's judges (aka "moguls"): Rick Ross of Maybach Music Group, The-Dream of Radio Killa Records, and Lenny S. of Roc Nation. If they manage to make a good impression, the moguls will help develop these new talents -- putting them through a variety of workshops and performance face-offs to help hone their skills. The grand prize is the opportunity to be signed to one of the moguls' record labels.

Is it any good?

The one thing this show has working for it is that the aspiring artists are asked to perform original music. This helps differentiate it from shows like American Idol, where a contestant can get a big reaction just by doing a passable rendition of a well-loved classic song. It could, however, benefit from a sprinkle of The Voice's magic, which places more value on a performer's talent than image. The show claims to be all about "raw talent," but could certainly spend more time showcasing it and less time focused on fights and pettiness. Additionally, one of the show's judges, Rick Ross, is a polarizing figure who once said that the reason he's never signed a female performer to his label is because he "can't trust himself to not sleep with them" -- which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in terms of his qualifications as a true mentor for these contestants, many of whom are young women.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of hip-hop and R&B music, and the culture surrounding it. What kind of messages are prevalent in these musical genres, both good and bad? How does the history and culture influence Signed?

  • How important are a performer's looks to his or her success? Have you ever heard a song and then been surprised when you saw what the singer looked like? Did this change your enjoyment of the music?

TV details

For kids who love music

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