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 this reality series -- which follows teen contestants as they compete in a series of extreme sports challenges -- doesn't model the most sportsmanlike behavior. Contestants occasionally stretch the rules to rack up points the easy way: For example, in a challenge in which teens are suspended amid a group of mailboxes and told to swing among them, stuffing letters into their slots, one girl disregards the instructions, uprooting one of the boxes and carrying it with her as she swings. The host usually shrugs these transgressions off, saying that they weren't explicitly forbidden. One of the adults also mocks the contestants when he thinks they're not doing well, making frequent comments like "You tried, but not hard enough." Though these comments are meant to be funny, it's clear that some contestants aren't amused.
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What's the story?
THE ADRENALINE PROJECT is a kid-oriented reality show in which five adventure-seeking teens compete head-to-head in a series of challenges designed to test their physical and mental toughness. Each episode begins with a new group of competitors, who arrive at "base camp" to meet boot camp guru Boomer Phillips. Under his direction, the teens undergo some physical training before tackling the two challenges he's designed to gauge their strength, mental focus, and sense of strategy. One contestant is eliminated after each challenge; when the pack is whittled down to three, Boomer turns them over to host Richard "Caz" Cazeau for the final mystery stunt. Whether that ends up being a zipline, riversurfing, or a death-defying bungee jump, these bold teens are ready to try it, and the eventual winner (a.k.a. the Ultimate Adrenalite) earns the chance to pad his or her adventure resume with an extreme sport trip like whitewater kayaking.
Is it any good?
While the show may inspire your tweens and teens to take an interest in physical activities like the ones it highlights, as a package, The Adrenaline Project is often obnoxious. First there's loud-mouthed Boomer, whose spin on encouragement is frequently riddled with sarcasm ("If you make the wrong decisions, I get to laugh at you!") and insults ("My grandmother can push a wheelchair faster than that!"). Though meant to be funny, his comments could easily be misunderstood by emotional competitors or young viewers. Also annoying are the apparent gray areas in the rules that allow for obvious cheating. For example, in a ropes course -- where the challenge is to grab rings and toss them at targets in the water for extra points -- one teen simply drops them to speed up her time, since none of her peers hit the targets before her. Rather than remind kids to follow the rules, Boomer and Caz seem to admire the contestants' craftiness.
On-camera confessionals (now a standard in reality TV) allow contestants to talk about their competitors out of earshot, and mild trash talk sometimes pops up. Finally, the show is bogged down by the irritating pop-ups that deliver facts ranging from how much mail the postal service delivers to where your adrenal glands are located. Overall, The Adrenaline Project lacks clarity and flow, often falling victim to a herky-jerky style and the antics of the cheesy hosting duo.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether it's OK to bend the rules to get something you want. Do you think the kids who take advantage of the game's "flexible" rules are cheating? Why or why not? Families can also discuss adventure and extreme sports. Kids: Would you be interested in trying some of the challenges you see on this show? Which ones? Are there any you definitely wouldn't do? Why not? Do you think the contestants are ever scared by the challenges they face? How do you think they overcome their fear? When have you overcome fear to do something scary? How did you feel when you were done?
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