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 despite claiming to challenge stereotypes about women, this reality dating series -- in which a woman in her forties tries to find love among a group of men in their twenties -- is full of sexist behavior (catcalls, howls, and more) and strong sexual innuendo. There's also lots of drinking (everything from beer to shots), and salty language (though the worst is bleeped). The "cougar" must kiss contestants during elimination rounds, and she also takes bubble baths and climbs onto a bed with some (though the guys strip off their shirts, no sensitive parts are shown).
What's the story?
In THE COUGAR, 25 men in their twenties vie for the heart of fortysomething "cougar" Stacey Anderson. After five of the hopefuls are literally "kissed off" during an elimination round, the rest try to stay in the game by finding ways to convince her that they're the men of her dreams. Throughout the competition, each contestant must also try to convince Stacey's family -- including her children -- that he's "the one." The last man on her arm wins the chance to continue their relationship and (hopefully) win her hand in marriage.
Is it any good?
Hosted by Vivica A. Fox, the series attempts to challenge the cultural double standard that accepts the idea of men dating younger women but rejects the idea of women in their forties dating younger men. But aside from giving a strong, successful single mother the chance to choose a romantic partner from a group of twentysomethings, the show does little to counter pre-existing notions. In fact, the show's use of labels like "cougar" actually perpetuates negative stereotypes about older women who date younger men, making them seem almost predatory as they seek out younger mates.
This voyeuristic series also has plenty of the same shenanigans as most other dating reality shows. There's lots of drinking and obnoxious sexist behavior, as well as plenty of strong language and arguments between the contestants. And then there's all the sexual innuendo, some of which gives the impression that Anderson is engaging in various sexual activities with a variety of men. Bottom line? The Cougar is simply "fighting" sexism with sexism, and it doesn't really have anything new to offer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how shows like this influence teens' perception of gender roles and sexuality. What messages is the show sending viewers?
How can the media both challenge and perpetuate "double standards" when it comes to men and women? Do you think the idea of younger men dating older women has become more acceptable in recent years?
Do you think it's really possible to find a "soul mate" on reality shows? Or is it all just about entertainment value?
For kids who love reality TV
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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