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 Take Me Out is a dating game show with wall-to-wall nudge-nudge wink-winks. Sexual innuendo is constant: "He's a ripe piece of meat, and he needs a bite taken out of him." While the show's iffy language is minimal, and there's no specific sexual conversations, the sexy banter and physical critiques create a highly charged, if lighthearted, atmosphere. Plus,Take Me Out reinforces gender stereotypes and shallowness, with all the women -- who are all conventionally attractive -- in high heels and short dresses, but all this will probably attract teens. If they must watch, Mom or Dad will want to be on hand to counter the worst of the dumb sex jokes.
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What's the story?
Already a big hit in Australia and the UK, the American version of dating game show TAKE ME OUT is hosted by George Lopez and features 30 female contestants who stand behind consoles lit with a white light. One male contestant comes down the "love lift" to music of his own choosing. At that point, women can begin turning off the lights in their console, indicating their lack of interest in the guy. Lopez interviews the women who turn off their lights, and they're encouraged to explain why they don't like the man in question. Subsequent rounds weed out players via video footage and live performance stunts. At the end of three rounds, if there are many lights left on, the bachelor turns off all but two of them and asks the women questions to suss out whether he wants a date. The winner accompanies the bachelor on a date that will be shown on the next episode; the remaining females keep going through subsequent contestants, week after week, until they go on a date.
Is it any good?
Awful, smutty, and cringe-worthy, this is exactly the kind of fare that teenagers think is hilarious but adults despise. Yet it's difficult to articulate exactly why. The women are being treated with at least a modicum of respect, and everyone onstage seems to want to be there. In addition, no one seems to be taking the idea of romance seriously; there's no creepy pretending that the contestants are seriously searching for lasting love (we're looking at you, The Bachelor), and some contestants, both male and female, are genuinely charming.
And yet, all the stupid and witless sex jokes get old, fast. "Let the hot dog see his buns!" cries Lopez about a male contestant coming down the "love lift." Even Lopez seems a little embarrassed to be delivering that line. Watching male contestants dance (usually terribly) to win female approval is pretty amusing, but when host and contestants stop dancing and talk, things go so wrong. "I like a guy like I like a sports car: beauty outside and high performance inside," says one over-rehearsed contestant, with a phony wink and leer. Teens who haven't seen this kind of winky shtick on shows from The Dating Game to Exposed will likely find it funny. Parents will just be praying they don't see their own kids on the Take Me Out stage anytime soon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's "funny" that the male contestants have to dance and strut for the women on the show. What makes that funny? In real life, which gender is usually the one on display? Which is usually the observer?
Would you appear on Take Me Out? Why or why not? Is this a good way to find a date? Are the contestants humiliating themselves by appearing on the show, or is it all in good fun?
Do you think the couples who meet on Take Me Out wind up staying together? Why or why not? Is the purpose of shows like Take Me Out really to help people find romance? If not, what is the real purpose?