Spell-Mageddon

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Spell-Mageddon TV Poster Image
Messy, comical verbal contest spells F-U-N for families.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The spelling contest takes a backseat to the mess and mayhem, and the fact that the words are displayed on the screen makes it impossible to play along from home, though kids might be encouraged to practice their spelling.

Positive Messages

Players take part in this game show knowing they'll be subjected to a series of obstacles that test them physically and mentally, all for the entertainment of the audience. To some degree, it sends the message that it's OK to laugh at people getting hurt or making mistakes, but that's offset by the contestants' jovial attitudes throughout the game. Though the monetary prize is bound to be a major incentive to them, the show doesn't play up greed or encourage negative competition among the players. Though it's a silly, messy, chaotic game, contestants do have to display a mastery of spelling and the ability to overcome challenges to come out on top.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite the competitive atmosphere and their discomfort throughout the game show, the contestants display sportsmanship in victory and in defeat. The host and studio audience have great fun laughing at the players, but they do plenty of it themselves as well.

Violence & Scariness

Many of the game's distractions are uncomfortable or moderately painful for the contestants. Electric shock, dunks in frigid water, and being pummeled by balls are just a few of the obstacles they must endure.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Rarely "sucks" or "butt."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spell-Mageddon puts kid contestants through messy, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful obstacles in conjunction with a rapid-fire spelling competition. The result is a funny game show that will have audiences in stitches over the players' predicaments and a little amazed at their ability to focus on spelling words while they're being dunked, shocked, and pelted with balls. The fact that they're very good sports about the process makes it easy to chuckle at their expense, but you'll want to remind kids about the fine line between laughing with someone and laughing at him.

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What's the story?

In SPELL-MAGEDDON, seven contestants face off in a spelling challenge like no other, enduring a series of physical distractions as they attempt to spell words to advance through the rounds and have a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. As the game progresses, the words -– and the distractions -– get more difficult, from slippery floors to repeated dunks in a tub of ice water and showers of slime. Hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro, this one-of-a-kind spelling bee calls for nerves of steel and a flair for phonetics.

Is it any good?

Move over, Scripps; there's a new contest in town, and its commingling of spelling bee drama and Double Dare-style mess and mayhem makes for plenty of laughs. The mild forms of torture to which these contestants are subjected are enough to give anyone brain freeze, so it's pretty impressive that they pull off the spelling feats that they do. What's more, there are times when the sights and sounds of the chaotic distractions actually hinder the integrity of the spelling portion of the contest, since it's hard to hear a word or speak the names of letters when water is being sprayed in your face. Of course, the show isn't out to amaze you with the players' word prowess alone; instead, Spell-Mageddon spells success "f-u-n," and ultimately that's what you'll have watching it.

The downside is that every laugh comes at the expense of the poor souls being slimed, dunked, or pummeled as they attempt to keep their wits about them and spell words, and the show makes a sport of replaying their discomfort for the audience. This is fine for tweens who understand that the players signed on for this kind of comical abuse, but younger kids may need to be reminded about the difference between sharing a laugh and putting someone on the hot seat without their say-so.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about playing games and being competitive. Is it fun to test our skills against someone else's in contests? Why or why not? How does it feel when you win? When you lose?

  • Kids: Why do the contestants agree to take part in this show? Did you think any of the challenges were dangerous? What would you put yourself through for $10,000?

  • Parents can talk to their kids about what bullying is and isn't. Did the fact that the players seemed to be having a good time make it easier to laugh at their predicaments? Would the show have been as funny or enjoyable if they were unwilling participants in it? What should you do if you witness someone being bullied for another person's enjoyment?

TV details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love game shows and competitions

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