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The Beautiful Life: TBL
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 fashion-centric drama is driven by high-end labels and, as the title suggests, focuses on impossibly beautiful people, two of whom are teen models coming of age in a very adult world. Although both appear to be good-hearted with a strong moral compass, they're constantly put into iffy situations that could tempt them to stray. Their friends and associates drink, take prescription drugs, obsess about their bodies and weight, and aren't above back-stabbing to get ahead in their careers. There's some sharp language, too, including phrases like "piss off" and "son of a bitch," as well as shirtless men (and women, who always cover their breasts) and sexual situations.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Iowa farm boy Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth) gets roped into THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE when a modeling scout spots him in a New York City restaurant while he's vacationing with his family and invites him to attend a "go-see." Suddenly, the small-town guy is meeting with big-city agents and photographers, attending fabulous parties, living in an all-model apartment paid for by the Covet Modeling Agency, and making friends with an up-and-coming model who seems different than the rest of them (Sara Paxton). But it doesn't take Chris long to see the ugly side of the so-called "beautiful" life.
Is it any good?
Fashion television is undeniably hot right now, with the ongoing success of shows like Project Runway and America's Next Top Model. But even for fashion die-hards, The Beautiful Life is a bitter pill to swallow. Perhaps it's the clunky dialogue or the improbable "Iowa farm boy lands a major modeling gig while vacationing in New York" premise. But a few of the supporting performances weigh it down, too, much like a poorly chosen accessory. Supermodel Elle Macpherson, well cast as (what else?) a former supermodel who now owns a modeling agency, is a notable exception.
Whether the show's target audience -- teens -- will forgive its shortcomings in favor of its focus on expensive designer labels and the collective good looks of its cast is anyone's guess. It's kind of like a garment that looks stylish and expensive but, in reality, isn't very well made. It might sell ... but it probably won't last.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the modeling industry sets impossible standards when it comes to beauty and body image. Why do high-fashion models tend to be so thin? Do you think there will ever be a day when models look more like "regular" people?
How does the high-end fashion industry influence our tastes when it comes to clothing, accessories, and style? Does watching a show like this one make kids want to buy expensive designer fashions? Is it possible to look chic without laying down lots of cash?
Do you think it's appropriate for a 16-year-old to be living on his or her own in New York City and working as a model? What are the risks of allowing a teen to take a full-time job in a big city, essentially unsupervised? Does it force them to grow up too fast? Are there any benefits?