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 the contestants in this reality competition are unknowingly being judged on both their looks and their actions. And while the series does have some positive messages about what constitutes ethical or appropriate behavior, it also places a lot of emphasis on physical beauty. Overall, the content is pretty mild compared to that of other reality shows, but you can still expect some strong language (words like "piss" are heard, while stronger terms are bleeped/blurred), catty behavior, and drinking.
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What's the story?
TRUE BEAUTY secretly challenges 10 seemingly confident, good-looking men and women to demonstrate that they're beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. Each week, the contestants participate in a series of challenges that test their physical beauty for a chance to win $100,000 and a feature in People's 100 Most Beautiful People issue. The twist? Before, during, and after each challenge, the cast members are given specific opportunities to show off their inner beauty by being courteous, ethical, and/or moral. The judges -- celeb stylist Nole Marin, supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, and host/former Miss Teen USA Vanessa Minnillo -- secretly observe their behavior. In every episode, the two contestants who score the fewest points in both inner and outer beauty face elimination. And it's only after contestants are eliminated that they're let in on the true nature of the competition -- and are then forced to watch examples of their less-than-beautiful performances.
Is it any good?
While True Beauty departs from many other reality competitions thanks to its focus on inner beauty, it's full of mixed messages. The contestants' looks are still a major part of the judging criteria, and much of the show focuses on how good they look in tight clothes, skimpy bathing suits, and designer clothing. Also problematic is the show's insistence on gauging physical beauty with values that reflect an unrealistic, usually stereotypical commercial Hollywood standard that rejects people who aren't tall and thin and don't have seemingly symmetrical features.
The show (whose list of producers includes Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks) does send some positive messages about being a good person, but its voyeuristic nature is also carefully constructed to add to the entertainment -- especially when judges catch contestants making some poor ethical choices or engaging in over-the-top activities. And because of the role that physical beauty plays in the competition, even contestants who let their nastier natures show still have the potential of winning. Bottom line? This series, like some of its contestants, just isn't as beautiful as it seems on the outside.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes someone truly beautiful. Should someone's looks be considered with equal importance as how they behave? Families can also discuss how the media defines beauty. What kinds of messages does the media send about what makes a person physically beautiful? Are these standards realistic? Fair? Discriminatory? How do you decide what -- or who -- is beautiful? (Parents: Check out our body image tips for more information.)
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