By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Serious tattoo art in a slightly gritty atmosphere.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Even if you don't like tattoos themselves, you have to admire the students who come to improve their skills and possibly change their lives. Tattooing is taken seriously as a craft on this show, and we see some of the sweat of students as they learn.
Positive Role Models
To be attending the school at all, students have to have some interest in learning a skill, though some are more ambitious and hardworking than others. Pogue is an effective teacher, alternately bluntly critical and and full of support and encouragement.
Violence & Scariness
There is often a little blood when humans are tattooed, as well as red ink that looks gory and gross as it seeps out of the skin.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The focus is on giving better tattoos, not romance, but pictures showing a good amount of skin adorn the walls of World's Only Tattoo School, and customers often have to disrobe or pull up clothing to get their ink. No nudity is shown. Some tattoos may feature racy themes, i.e. images of half-naked women.
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Some cursing with the stronger stuff bleeped: "F--k that," "kick in the ass." There's also some salty language: I'm really pissed off. But for the most parts students and instructor Pogue are respectful of each other.
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Products & Purchases
The World's Only Tattoo School logo appears frequently.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tattoo School is an absorbing look at artists improving their skills that happens to take place in an atmosphere that can be a bit seamy. The fact that everything takes place in a tattoo parlor, with pictures of bare naked inked backs and bellies on the wall and customers coming in asking to have the names of their exes covered up, may make some parents watching with kids uncomfortable. A little bit of rough language, with the worst curses bleeped, from both Pogue and his students, may also concern some parents. But if that's not an issue for your family, and if you enjoy watching shows that delve deeply into particular artistic areas (or you're covered with tattoos yourself), watching Tattoo School with your kids presents an ideal opportunity to discuss concepts like persistence, slow and gradual improvement, showing respect to one's instructors and other ideas useful for kids in school.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
Bill Pogue, the proprietor of Shreveport, Louisiana's World's Only Tattoo School runs the show at TATTOO SCHOOL, where three students weekly take his two-week course in tattooing. The students take on various tattoo challenges during each course: They may have to cover up a tattoo mistake from the past, or try a new and difficult technique. Pogue talks them through the challenge, explaining in asides to the audience the finer points of lines, shading, needles, colors, and other technical aspects. The students are also pulled out for solo interviews in which they discuss why they want to be tattoo artists and how it will change their lives. At the end of each challenge, Pogue criticizes and/or compliments the work and gives pointers; at the end of the two-week course, one student is given the "Golden Gun," a high-end tattoo gun that Pogue says should last them the rest of their career.
Is It Any Good?
It's really not that interesting watching someone draw. So thankfully, the show doesn't linger long on the students hunched over naked backs and hairy arms. What is interesting in Tattoo School is learning the ins and outs of tattooing, an ancient art with a lot of arcane knowledge attached to it, as well as watching the students flower and improve.
Tattooing isn't for everybody; and parents may justifiably wonder if a program set in a milieu that's traditionally a bit naughty may be right for kids. It's true you'll catch sight of plenty of tattoo charts in the background with drawings of women with bare breasts akimbo, and there's some pretty salty language from both customers, Pogue, and students. But for ink enthusiasts or those who don't mind it, this insider's look at a curious art is quite interesting, maybe even a little inspirational as we watch students sincerely trying to better themselves, and a teacher trying to push them to do just that.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fact that the World's Only Tattoo Parlor program is only two weeks long. Is that enough time to practice tattooing, given what you've seen on the show? Does it change your mind to know that Tattoo School is controversial amongst tattoo artist community for this very reason?
Why do you think TLC chose to make a show set in a tattoo parlor? Why not a school where students learn to paint, or play the piano, or cook? What aspects of work at a tattoo parlor do you think made Tattoo School more appealing to TLC? Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that tattoos are usually put on bare skin, which means more people with their shirts and pants off?
Do you think every student who attends World's Only Tattoo School also gets on the show? How do you think they choose the students who appear on the show?
- Premiere date: May 24, 2012
- Cast: Bill Pogue
- Network: TLC
- Genre: Reality TV
- Topics: Arts and Dance
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
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