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, like its predecessors, Total Drama Revenge of the Island is a cartoon that's not intended for young kids, thanks to the unabashed stereotyping of cast members and some negative examples of teamwork and competition. Because the cartoon parodies reality competitions like Survivor, viewers who aren't familiar with the format or typical contestant pools of these shows won't find this one as funny as those who are. Expect some crudity and potty humor (belching, wetting pants, etc.), mild sexuality (girls wear revealing tops and references to "hooking up"), and marginal language ("loser," "butt," "crap"), as well as plenty of death-defying stunts, explosions, and injuries over the course of the challenges.
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What's the story?
The fourth installment in the Total Drama franchise, TOTAL DRAMA REVENGE OF THE ISLAND welcomes a new cast of 13 players to Camp Wawanakwa for a crack at the million-dollar prize. But to win, they must survive the hair-raising challenges designed by the egotistical and slightly maniacal host, Chris McLean (voiced by Christian Potenza). As if the unpredictably volcanic Mount Looming Tragedy and unseen booby traps around the island aren't enough to scare the contestants off, they must also contend with mutant creatures and toxic waste, since the place was left as a dump site when the show's first cast left it years ago. This year's contestants include naïve bubble boy Cameron (Kevin Duhaney), fake 'n' baker Anne Maria (Athena Karkanis), military cadet Brick (Jon Cor), paparazzi target Dakota (Carleigh Beverley), and the multiple personalities of well-intentioned Mike (Cory Doran).
Is it any good?
Total Drama Revenge of the Island takes good-natured jabs at reality competitions in general and the long-running father of them all, Survivor, in particular. Viewers familiar with Survivor's format will get the most out of this very funny parody, from the cheery host who revels in the contestants' discomfort to the motley crew of fame-seeking cooks willing to do just about anything for the almighty dollar. From the on-again, off-again alliances among the contestants to the tense elimination rounds (marked by the delivery of a toxic marshmallow and a catapult expulsion from the island, of course), you'll find plenty of laughs on this island getaway.
That said, the fact that this show is a cartoon makes it easy to overlook content that's not appropriate for young kids. The one-dimensional characters perpetuate all kinds of racial and personality stereotypes, including a self-absorbed African-American guy and a big-hipped Hispanic girl who's consumed with vanity. There's some bathroom humor, sexual references (talk of "hooking up" and some euphemisms for genitalia), and marginal language to contend with, plus frequent manipulation, sabotage, and bad examples of team dynamics. A good rule of thumb? If your kids are too young for the actual reality shows, then they probably shouldn't be watching this parody, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role of reality TV in entertainment. How "real" are reality contests like Fear Factor and The Amazing Race? Do some of these shows have better messages than others? What positive qualities (if any) can be gleaned from this type of content?
Tweens: What role do stereotypes play in comedy? Is it possible to totally eliminate stereotypes from TV shows or movies? Are there any cases in which stereotypes can be portrayed in a positive way?
How does competition teach us life lessons? What value exists in falling short of our goal? How does it feel to win? Why are sportsmanship and fair play important in competition?
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