The N's Student Body

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The N's Student Body TV Poster Image
Teen take on Biggest Loser will inspire.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The series celebrates the teens' efforts to lose weight and adopt healthier lifestyles. Participants are supportive of each other despite their team affiliations, but they do talk honestly in confessionals about peers they feel aren't committed to the program. Emotional moments show teens crying and talking about how their weight interferes with their enjoyment of life. Body image obviously plays an important role. The participants are a fairly diverse bunch.

Violence
Sex

A few references to teens wanting to be thin and "sexy."

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the teen participants in this weight-loss challenge go through a lot of emotional drama as they struggle with radical changes to their eating and lifestyle habits. They tearfully discuss how their weight interferes with their enjoyment of life, as well as the factors that contribute to their problems with food (family strife, feelings of isolation, stress, etc.). Although the show includes lots of scenes of the teens struggling through exercises like running and push-ups, the overall mood is hopeful rather than judgmental, and the entire cast seems truly vested in the teens' success. Even better, there's little indication of competition among the teens themselves, who celebrate each other's victories as much as their own.

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What's the story?

In THE N'S STUDENT BODY, 12 teens face a life-altering challenge to improve their health and get in shape. The two teams of participants -- who hail from rival high schools in Decatur, IL -- face off in a battle of willpower to drop excess weight, increase physical activity, and make healthy eating choices. Under the guidance of two motivational physical trainers and host Laila Ali, the teens must commit to radical lifestyle changes if they want to claim the prize: $25,000 for the winning team's school, plus an individual award of $25,000 for the competitor who makes the biggest overall change.

Is it any good?

If all of this sounds a lot like original reality weight-loss challenge The Biggest Loser, it's not surprising -- Student Body is produced by the same folks who first made it acceptable to post participants' weights in bold numbers for all the world to see. Much of the show's structure seems like a carbon copy of its parent series, but some aspects have been adjusted to reflect the fact that the participants here are teens. For starters, weigh-ins are done in shorts and baggy T-shirts rather than Spandex and sports bras, and there are no challenges of willpower that tempt the competitors with high-calorie foods. There's also no mandatory elimination; teens are sent packing only if they consistently demonstrate a negative attitude about themselves or the program.

Student Body's trainers and motivational leaders do a good job of delivering tough love without seeming judgmental. Even when their words reduce the teens to tears, the adults are quick to follow up with encouragement and support, and overall they get their message through. The focus never strays from emphasizing healthy lifestyles, and no teen is encouraged to meet someone else's standard of the "perfect body." Emotions often run high; there are plenty of tears as the participants talk about the personal issues that contribute to their size. But overall, the show is inspirational, and in today's world of body image hyper-sensitivity, you've got to hand it to these teens for taking such a radical step to change their lives.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media affects people's own body image. Do you think there's such a thing as the "perfect" body? Can the average person hope to achieve it? How do the images you see on television and in magazines make you feel about your own appearance? What aspects of yourself are your favorites? Families can also use this opportunity to discuss healthy eating and exercise habits and to make adjustments to their own lifestyles for better health.

TV details

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