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 cable series catalogs celebrity wealth and expenditures. Much like reading a tabloid magazine, viewers imbibe hundreds of celebrity images over the course of each episode. These images -- and the constant messages of materialism and the primacy of physical beauty -- are celebrated unapologetically. Teens may need a reality check after watching this show.
What's the story?
VH1 guilty pleasure THE FABULOUS LIFE OF… profiles Hollywood celebrities with a focus on their lavish lifestyles and the money that makes it all possible. Very voyeuristic, the series sometimes focuses on a single celebrity, like Jessica Simpson but more often spreads the wealth among a Hollywood subset like "Hollywood's It Girls" or "Hollywood's Most Amazing Comebacks." In the "Comebacks" show, for example, the narrator introduced each celebrity -- from Teri Hatcher to Hulk Hogan -- and described their career peaks and lows as viewers watched video clips and photomontages of the stars at different points in their careers. Interspersed with the footage was commentary from VH1's cast of celebrity experts, from tabloid magazine editors to stylists to celebrities themselves. Viewers learned about stars' salaries; saw pictures of mansions, cars, and jewelry; and got the update on relationships -- all at a whirlwind pace.
Is it any good?
While the show suggests a hint of eye-rolling at the stars' outlandish spending habits and luxury tastes, it isn't shy about dropping brand names or promoting them. On the VH1 Web site, which is advertised throughout the network's shows, browsers can find the Little Black Book listing all the products and vendors described on the individual episodes.
But overall the show has absolutely no redeeming value and only serves to glamorize the materialistic, appearance-oriented culture of Hollywood and celebrities. Teenagers who follow celebrity happenings will eat the series up, but parents concerned about star culture and the messages it sends may want to limit teens' intake. That said, since none of its content is overtly offensive, a little Fab Life in moderation might help a day home with the flu pass more quickly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about values. While shopping sprees and spa getaways may be fun to fantasize about, what's really important in our lives? What would teens miss most if it were gone? Your car, your jeans, or your best friend? Families can also talk about appearance and beauty. How much money do celebrities spend to make themselves look so perfect? Have teens noticed that every movie star has fake-looking teeth? Do teens ever feel bad about the way they look, especially after watching a show like this or looking at pictures of celebrities?