The Mole

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Mole TV Poster Image
Deceit rules in mind-tickling reality competition.

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The purpose of the game is skillful deception; some players seek out seemingly friendly allegiances with others just to better analyze who might be the mole. Challenges require players to work as a team, but all the while the participants are analyzing their peers' efforts in an attempt to figure out who's secretly sabotaging the game. Players are highly critical of one another and trash-talk one another behind their backs. Greed is central to the show.


Contestants face a series of challenges, some of which could be dangerous (in one segment, for instance, they wear safety harnesses and must jump from a raft as it tumbles over a waterfall). Contestants often joke about death to lighten the tension. When tempers fly, some participants threaten their competitors with comments like "I'll kill you." Each episode ends in the elimination of one player, who is said to have been "executed."


Multiple uses of "f--k" are bleeped, but "bitch" and the like are audible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Participants sometimes enjoy mixed drinks in social settings or during meals.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that lying and deception are at the heart of this reality competition, in which one of the 12 players is secretly sabotaging the others' efforts to succeed as a team. Contestants form alliances to spy on their peers and pick up on inconsistencies; even apparently friendly relationships can turn ugly in one-on-one confessionals as players trash-talk each other. Expect some strong language ("bitch" is audible, though multiple uses of "f--k" are bleeped), lots of greed (it is a game show, after all), dangerous stunts (jumping off a raft as it tumbles over a waterfall, for instance), and many references to "execution," since that's what each episode's elimination round is called. All of that said, the show has a cerebral quality that will intrigue teens and adults, who may enjoy piecing together their own clues to discover the traitor.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byCogreboy5079 July 20, 2014
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviecritic April 9, 2008

Fun yet at times confusing

First let me say that The Mole is a good reality show for what it's worth. Yes it is quite confusing so if you miss just one episode you'll have to wa... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE MOLE, 12 players participate in team challenges to earn money for a cash pot -- while they simultaneously try to flush out the secret saboteur (a.k.a. \"The Mole\") among them who's trying to undermine their efforts without attracting suspicion. In each episode, the group is presented with tasks that test them both physically and mentally; the players must not only concentrate on their own performances but also take notes on their peers' as they try to identify the mole. Each installment concludes with a quiz about the mole -- the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated (or \"executed,\" as they say) from the show. At the show's conclusion, the mole is revealed, and the winner claims the cash pot.

Is it any good?

First, the bad news -- this series is fraught with the kind of content that we've all come to expect from reality shows, including dramatized conflict, derogatory comments, fragile allegiances, and ulterior motives. Mix that with the greed that comes into play whenever adults compete for cash, and you can expect fiery tempers, mature language, and strong emotions. The Mole takes it even further with the saboteur gimmick -- deception is essential for the game to be a success.

That said, teens and adults who can put the iffy behavior into the context of expertly edited and overly dramatized reality TV will find that The Mole actually attempts to combine entertainment with a cerebral workout. It's fun -- and slightly addictive -- to make mental note of players' actions and try to puzzle out for yourself who might be the bad seed (though at-home viewers are disadvantaged by being at the mercy of the show's editing, which is sure to steer suspicion in the wrong direction for effect.)

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the production process affects viewers' impressions of what they see on TV. What do you think is the main purpose of content editing? How do producers decide which footage to keep and which to cut? How can they edit what they film to make certain scenarios seem more dramatic, emotional, or frightening? How does the role of editing vary in different types of TV shows (documentary, comedy, game shows, etc.)? In short -- how "real" is reality TV?

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 9, 2001
  • Cast: Jon Kelley
  • Network: ABC
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Last updated: October 11, 2020

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