Tool Academy

Common Sense Media says

Relationship "boot camp" has unhealthy messages.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The women want to change their boyfriends so that they'll be treated better. The men are tricked into appearing on the show and are then bribed to stay (with the potential for a cash prize). The men disrespect their girlfriends, some to the point of being emotionally abusive. The women admit tolerating this behavior; some have self-esteem issues that aren't addressed. Therapy sessions focus more on problems then solutions. The majority of the women are Caucasian; the men are both Caucasian and African-American.

Violence

Couples frequently argue; one girlfriend slaps her boyfriend in the face. The men often argue with each other as well; this sometimes leads to pushing, shoving, and fighting. Some men throw things and break furniture to show that they're "real men."

Sex

Some strong sexual innuendo.The men are shown stripping, oiling their bodies, and wearing tight bathing suits. They're also shown dancing provocatively (including lots of butt shaking and thrusting). Many of the men brag about being promiscuous and/or about satisfying women in the bedroom. One contestant refers to himself as "playa pimpin' tool." One contestant refers to his girlfriend as his "bottom bitch."

Language

Audible language includes words like "piss" and "bitch." Stronger curse words ("f--k," "s--t") are bleeped. Rude gestures are fully hidden.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Frequent consumption of beer, champagne, and wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this reality series is about unsuspecting men whose girlfriends have sent them to a boot camp-like "academy" in order to help them learn to commit and be respectful. The men exhibit plenty of sexist attitudes and other negative behavior (bordering on emotional abuse), while their girlfriends -- some of whom appear to have self-esteem issues -- tolerate it ... none of which adds up to a lesson that parents want their teens learning. Cast members drink and discuss topics like infidelity and promiscuity often, and frequent arguments between the couples -- as well as between the men -- sometimes lead to pushing, shoving, and slapping. Words like "piss" are audible, while stronger choices ("s--t," "f--k") are bleeped.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

In TOOL ACADEMY, nine obnoxious, dishonest, and unfaithful men (referred to as \"tools\") are unknowingly sent to relationship "boot camp" by their girlfriends in order to be reformed and transformed into husband material. The alpha males -- who are competing for a $100,000 prize -- agree to live together and undergo intense couples counseling led by therapist Trina Dolenz. They must also participate in a series of relationship challenges designed to teach lessons about respect, communication, honesty, and other values. At the end of each episode, Dolenz and host Jordan Murphy expel the man who's failed the day's lesson. The unlucky contestant is then sent to face his girlfriend, who must determine whether to continue the relationship or walk away.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While the show does portray the men's sexism, dishonesty, and infidelity as negative traits, the obvious disrespect they show their partners is the series' main source of entertainment. Also meant to be part of the "fun" is watching the girlfriends' shocked, often tearful reactions when they watch recorded interviews and hidden camera footage of their partner's unscrupulous behavior. Meanwhile, counseling sessions seem to focus more on what's wrong than on actual solutions to the couples' relationship problems.

What makes the show even more problematic is its failure to address the women's willingness to put up with their partners' chauvinistic boasting, promiscuity, and other unsavory acts. Not to mention the fact that these women -- some of whom appear to have some serious self-esteem issues -- are desperately trying to change these men rather than empowering themselves to walk away and find someone who will treat them better. Bottom line? This series contains some very troubling -- and potentially dangerous -- messages about what makes for a healthy relationship.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of changing someone in order to "improve" them. Is it realistic to think that you can (or should) change another person? What if the person doesn't want to change? Can participating in a reality show really make someone a better person? Families can also discuss relationships and self-esteem. Should anyone tolerate being disrespected in a relationship? When does having personal differences in a relationship cross the line into being abusive? How can people in abusive relationships get help?

TV details

Cast:Jordan Murphy, Trina Dolenz
Network:VH1
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Tool Academy was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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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.

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Parent of a 17 year old Written bythompson2 October 23, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

April Thompson

Hello my name is april lyann thompson,and i love your guys show alot beacause it helps out your loved ones and i think you guys are doing a really great job at helping loved ones. love:april thompson
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