Taking the Stage

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Taking the Stage TV Poster Image
Performing arts reality show could inspire kids.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The show emphasizes hard work and striving for your dreams. It plays up the students' talent, rather than any interpersonal drama between them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The school is extremely diverse. And, in general, the students are strong role models for younger kids and serve as an example of how working hard can pay off. That said, Malik seems to be the "bad guy," in that he gives a new student a lukewarm welcome and makes fun of another dance troupe that places third in a school talent show. He's also shown throwing a tantrum when his own group doesn't place.

Violence

Competing students have a spirited dance-off filled with in-your-face moves, but it's all in good fun.

Sex

When romantic sparks fly between students, there's some innocent canoodling and flirtation, but nothing tweens and teens can't handle. Another student's boyfriend breaks up with her.

Language

In one instance, an angry student says, "I've worked my ass off for this." But swearing is genuinely rare.

Consumerism

Scenes are peppered with popular music from recognizable artists like Danity Kane and Rihanna.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not much to be concerned about in this performing arts reality series -- and, thanks to the show's emphasis on the students' talents, younger viewers could actually be inspired to pursue their own passions in the arts. Cursing is extremely rare, and when it does happen, it's a pretty minor word like "ass." There's also a bit of boy-girl relationship drama, although the most you'll see is innocent flirtation between male and female students.

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What's the story?

In the documentary-inspired reality series TAKING THE STAGE, cameras follow five students at the Cincinnati-based School for Creative and Performing Arts on their long road to fame -- a path that's paved with plenty of hard work. There's Jasmine, an aspiring ballerina; Mia, an ambitious singer-songwriter; Malik, a well-rounded choreographer; Skaakira, a ballet dancer who seems to prefer hip-hop; and Tyler, a compelling new dancer who shakes things up on his first day at school. The series was conceptualized and executive produced by pop singer Nick Lachey (who enjoyed his own bit of reality-show fame with then-wife Jessica Simspon on MTV's Newlyweds).

Is it any good?

Given the minefield of inappropriate reality show choices for tweens and teens, it's a pleasant surprise to find a series that showcases talented students who are working hard toward achieving their dreams instead of having their dreams handed to them on a silver platter. (Laguna Beach, anyone?) But that doesn't mean that Taking the Stage comes off as 100 percent genuine -- or altogether entertaining.

Conversations between students sometimes seem stilted and staged, and the slow-moving "scenes" often feel like they were set up by an unseen producer. So while we love the concept of shooting a documentary-style reality series inside a performing arts high school -- in essence, creating a real-life Fame -- the results here are a little disappointing. If we're being real, we'd rather watch something else.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the differences between a regular high school and a school like the School for Creative and Performing Arts. How does devoting your energies to a craft like singing or dancing compare to studying subjects like math, science, or English? Which is "easier"?

  • Do you consider these students intelligent as well as talented? Why or why not? Are they good role models?

  • How does a show like this compare to other MTV reality series?

TV details

For kids who love performing

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