The OCD Project

 
OCD reality show is informative, but also voyeuristic.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series highlights how difficult living with OCD is, and how treatment can help some people suffering from the disorder regain control of their lives. But underlying the positive messages are some questions about why the show's participants are choosing to expose their private lives to the world.

Positive role models

Dr. David Tolin is committed to helping people with anxiety disorders, but at times he is subtly self-promotional. The particpants are trying hard to overcome their problems (and have also chosen to expose themselves to public scrutiny, for better or worse).

Violence

Contains descriptions of people getting killed in hit-and-run accidents. Treatments include reenactments of violent events. Patients are shown compulsively doing things that cause them physical discomfort.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Contains lots of strong language; words like “Goddamn,“ “bulls--t,” “s--t,” and “f--k” are bleeped.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this voyeuristic but informative series features people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder receiving intense (and at times unconventional) treatments. It contains discussions about frightening and/or tragic events (like the hit-and-run death of a parent) in order to find the source of the patients' behaviors. Participants use some strong language (“Goddamn,“ “s--t,” and “f--k” are all bleeped). The overall series may be too intense for tweens, but because the disorder often manifests itself in childhood, parents might want to watch with their teens and discuss some of the issues that come up here.

What's the story?

THE OCD PROJECT is a reality series that features people struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the kinds of treatments being used to overcome it. For three weeks the six adults move into a group home run by psychologist and OCD specialist David Tolin, where they have the opportunity to share their pain and struggle with each other. The patients, who compulsively engage in behaviors ranging from endlessly washing their hands to living in terror that they will cause someone to die, undergo intense therapy and treatment exercises designed to re-train their brains to not fear the things that are prompting their behavior.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The series highlights the debilitating effects of OCD, which has the potential to cause people to lose complete control over their lives. It reveals some of the reasons why people develop it, which often include traumatic childhood experiences. It also shows how some OCD sufferers may have other psychiatric issues that often go untreated because of their struggle with the disorder.

The show is informative, but it is also uncomfortably voyeuristic, especially when patients are shown being overcome by their compulsions. Tolin’s methods, which he claims are intended to produce major life-changing results in a short period of time, sometimes seem a little over-the-top. The high expectations he places on his patients and on his treatments (like licking shoes and throwing fake babies at moving cars) might also leave viewers questioning some of the motives behind the show. This aside, the series successfully underscores how difficult it is to lives with OCD, and the efforts that are being made to help people overcome it. While not a perfect educational tool, parents might find the show a useful conversation starter for an issue that usually manifests itself in the early years.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Why is this a disorder, and not a disease? How can you get it? Is there a cure? Did you know that many OCD sufferers develop the disorder when they are children? Why? What is life like for people who live with OCD? Where can people who have OCD go for help?

  • How are OCD and other anxiety disorders discussed in the media? Do you think reality shows like these help educate the public about these ailments? Or are they creating stereotypes about these disorders and the people who have them?

  • Do shows like this serve educational purposes or do their merely exploit vulnerable people?

TV details

Cast:David Tolin
Network:VH1
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of The OCD Project was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byhos321 July 2, 2010
age 13+
 
Wonderful insight on daily lives of people living with ocd. Six people with said condition undergo a 2 week treatment. Dr. Tolin uses unique tactics to cure there ocd. The show also shows you how ocd can truly ruin your life. You come to care for the patients and admire there care for one another. It's fabulous to see how much each patient progresses through out the treatment. Children ages 12 and under (depending on their maturity level) would perhaps find this show boring. This, however, truly is a fascinating show which will perhaps capture your heart.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byMOVIE13 August 23, 2010
age 13+
 

a little tense but...

the show is a little tense at times but its mostly just boring and gross.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent of a 17 year old Written byjarrh June 14, 2010
age 17+
 
What other families should know
Great messages

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass