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 there's some bleeped language (mostly "f--k" and "s--t") and audible words like "ass" and "damn" in this Americanized British import that tests the abilities of various automobiles by racing and testing some potentially dangerous stunts. (There's an emphasis on speed, too, so parents might want to stress to kids that speed shouldn't be the goal of everyday driving.) Because of the format, the show also spotlights an ever-rotating line-up of car brands, including Audi, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Corvette, etc., and the hosts occasionally use light sexual innuendo.
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What's the story?
Borrowing much of its format from the British series of the same name that inspired it, TOP GEAR tests the limits of various cars, running them through extreme obstacle courses and timed challenges that showcase what they can do on the road. Hosted by professional race car driver Tanner Foust, racing analyst Rutledge Wood, and comedian Adam Ferrara, the series also features a regular segment in which celebrity guests race a compact vehicle on a test track ("Big Star in a Small Car") to compete for the fastest time, as well as a recurring bit in which a top-secret driver known simply as "The Stig" races various cars to see which is the fastest.
Is it any good?
While fans of the award-winning UK version might find the Americanized version lacking, there's still lots of fun to be had with the ragtag American hosts who clearly revel in their roles as car testers. Young car enthusiasts will find plenty to love as Top Gear mixes mechanics with celebrity with comedy -- all sure-fire hits for the (mostly male) older tween, young tween set.
Just don't expect the same sort of Consumer Reports-style information that the British show offers. Unlike its UK counterpart, which balances criticism with praise, this show focuses mostly on the thrill of driving these amazing machines.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between the show and the cars they "review." Are the reviews ever critical, or do they make every car look like a dream to drive? Do you think car manufacturers put any restrictions on the things the show can say about their cars?
If you've seen the British show that spawned this series, how do the two compare? (And if you haven't, tune into BBC America to watch a few episodes.) Does the U.S. version do anything differently? Which do you like better?
Does the show's emphasis on speed promote dangerous driving habits? What are the potential consequences of driving at speeds upwards of 150 mph? What are the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to road safety and responsible driving?
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