Parents' Guide to


By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Sensationalism overshadows reality show's thoughtful issues.

TV Fox Reality TV 2014
Utopia Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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Hosted by Dan Piraro, Utopia bills itself as a large-scale social experiment in creating the perfect society, which hints at warm-fuzzy moments of clarity and companionship among these vastly diverse cast members. And, although there are some touching exchanges that defy stereotypes and challenge snap judgments, it's clear from the start that the show aims to hook viewers by playing up controversy more than compromise. Not convinced? Look no further than the cast itself. These 15 participants (and the replacements arriving on a regular rotation) weren't names drawn from a hat; they were chosen for their fiery personalities and rivaling viewpoints, which causes rifts and sparks from the very first day.

On the other hand, the project and its pioneers should get some credit for designing a reality show that invites discussion on big issues and ditches concept of (and award money for) a single winner. Put an arms-bearing libertarian and an animal rights activist on the same farm, and there are bound to be some heated debates. Atheists and Christian ministers looking to win converts don't see eye to eye on much, but, when the influence of the real world is stripped away, they may find they have more in common than they think. The lines between personal freedom and community welfare, traditional and non-traditional relationships, and cultural divisions are blurred in unique ways in Utopia, and that can generate some interesting thinking and talking points for parents and teens.

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