The Cougar



Dating show claims to fight stereotypes but is just sexist.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show claims to challenge cultural ideas about older women and younger men but actually succeeds in perpetuating stereotypes about age and gender. The show's very title is a reference to a stereotypical type of older woman "on the prowl."

Positive role models

Stacey's behavior doesn't really challenge stereotypes about what a "cougar" is. Many of the men engage in sexist behavior (catcalling, whistling) and
make sexist remarks ... that are intended to be flattering. On the plus side, the contestants are from a variety of ethnic, social, and educational backgrounds.


Competitive behavior between contestants leads to some petty arguments, as well as some minor pushing and shoving.


Lots of strong sexual innuendo. During elimination rounds, the "cougar" must kiss all continuing contestants on the lips. Some contestants are shown touching her on the legs or thighs or trying to kiss her. Others are shown stripping down to their underwear or taking off their shirts as they climb onto beds with her (though no graphic nudity is shown).


Some strong language, ranging from insults like "idiot" and "chump" to bleeped curse words like "f--k," "s--t," "ass," and "douchebag."


Popular music is occasionally heard in the background, like Duran Duran's "Notorious."

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The of-age cast is often seen drinking wine, cocktails, beer, champagne, and shots. References are made about contestants being "drunk."

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).

Kids say

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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.

Families can talk 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?

TV details

Cast:Stacey Anderson, Vivica A. Fox
Network:TV Land
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14

This review of The Cougar was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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