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 male-centric makeover series sends a message that's iffy at best. True, socially awkward teenage boys might learn how to start and carry on a conversation with a girl. But they might also come away thinking that the only reason they should is so that they can get into her pants later on. The show's emphasis on "scoring" with women (rather than just meeting them for the sake of being social) makes it a poor choice for family viewing and a clear no-go for kids. Plus, alcohol is treated as an important tool in the "art" of seduction. On the bright side (such that it is), the language is surprisingly clean.
What's the story?
In VH1's reality show THE PICK-UP ARTIST, eight men looking for love are hoping that a man named Mystery can turn their lives around. Four of them are virgins, one of them has never had a girlfriend, and another complains that most women -- and even a lot of men -- assume he's gay. Over the course of several weeks, they'll compete in a string of elimination-style challenges; ultimately, one of them will become a "Master Pick-Up Artist." The winner will get $50,000 and the chance to travel the world with Mystery and his sidekicks, J-Dog and Matador, spreading the gospel of the Mystery Method to men everywhere.
Is it any good?
Like so many other TV shows, The Pick-Up Artist succumbs to reality-show shenanigans like dramatic lighting and music that make it seem like the guys are competing for are the highest stakes ever. But while those trappings can get a bit tiring, the show itself is sufficiently entertaining for adults and older teenagers -- as long as you can take Mystery's messages with a healthy dose of salt. Viewers may find themselves rooting for at least a few of these hapless Romeos, hoping that their lives will truly change. But since Mystery seems intent on turning them into an army of "mini-pimps," you have to wonder whether the change will actually be for the better.
At first, it seems like Mystery should have a credibility problem when it comes to picking up women. For one thing, there's his improbable name. For another, he has a penchant for bad headwear, the worst offender being a large, Mad Hatter-style model covered in fur. But the fact of the matter is that if a man named Mystery can charm a member of the opposite sex wearing something as ridiculous as that, then he must be pretty good. Of course, viewers later learn that the name and silly get-up is all part of Mystery's plan to make himself different from every other guy in the bar. It's also a little unsettling to find out that -- like that pair of man-tracking females who famously wrote The Rules for women -- Mystery and his pals have developed a patented method for hunting and scoring with the ladies. They casually throw around terms like "the two-set" and "the kiss close" like they're talking about professional sports ... and you realize that they've studied their subject extensively.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's so difficult for men and women (or even teen boys and girls) to really talk to each other -- especially when it comes to romance. Why do women usually expect men to make the first move when it comes to dating? How has that notion changed over the years? Is the way a guy looks as important as the way he carries himself or conducts a conversation? And what is it about Mystery that makes him so successful at charming the ladies?