Unchained Reaction

TV review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
Unchained Reaction TV Poster Image
Clever competition promotes creative engineering, teamwork.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Through using creativity and intelligence to create amazing machines, the show's contestants illustrate the power of education and especially science. Also the contestants must work well together to succeed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are a wide variety of teams spotlighted on the series, from Hollywood prop masters to physics majors. All of the contestants demonstrate the power of applied science to solve fun problems in a positive way, though there are occasional heated arguments.


Occasional disagreements between contestants that may escalate into verbal abuse. Also, near-constant destruction of household objects as part of the show's competitions.


Occasional use of words such as "ass," "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer kegs are sometimes used in experiments.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality competition series helps put an exciting, creative spin on science concepts and applies those concepts in everyday life. There is occasional mild language and interpersonal conflicts as the team members attempt to work together toward victory. The show also takes a gleefully destructive attitude toward destroying both common and uncommon items in pursuit of a win, which parents can use as an opportunity for a "don't try this at home" reminder. However, there's a positive attitude toward creative engineering and science that's infectious and a very supportive message for older kids and teens to experience.

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What's the story?

Hosted by mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, UNCHAINED REACTION is a science and engineering reality competition that pits dueling teams of experts against one another to build the most creative and successful chain reaction contraption they can. These massive installations typically require large objects such as pianos, beer kegs, and other items colliding into one another to set off a series of events that is both stunning and surreal to watch. After each team demonstrates their contraption, Savage and Hyneman select a winner.

Is it any good?

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are TV's Mythbusters, and if you love science and want your kids to love it too, they are your very best TV friends. They've single-handedly helped apply science and engineering to exactly the kind of daffy topics that older kids and teenagers can understand -- are elephants really afraid of mice? Does nervousness cause cold feet? Can you safely stick your hand into molten lead?

On Unchained Reaction, they continue to make applied science and creative engineering far more entertaining than you would ever expect. The teams feature the types of professions that are most likely to come up with crazy solutions to unusual problems -- Hollywood prop masters, for example, or physics professors. Then the show lets these types loose in a warehouse full of unconventional items and lets them figure out the most creative and unexpected ways to set off a chain reaction. Although there is occasional interpersonal conflict played for tension as well as infrequent adult language, overall Unchained Reaction is a great showcase for the power of science and engineering to do amazing things.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about science. How are scientific principles working all around you, in everyday objects and experiences? What kind of experiments would you like to do with everyday objects?

  • Are you tempted to try some of the show's experiments at home? What would you need to do first to prepare for an experiment using household items? What safety precautions would you take?

  • Are science shows boring? What makes the difference between an entertaining educational show and a boring one?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science

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