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 this game show is a worry-free option for families with tweens and up. There’s nothing about its content that's likely to concern parents aside from a few well-placed plugs for show sponsors, and the quiz-style format makes for fun play-along viewing. As with any contest, there’s the potential for some risk-taking and the possibility that a participant’s greed could result in the loss of winnings, but overall it’s good, family-friendly entertainment that rewards well-rounded knowledge.
What's the story?
Contestants on WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE put their general knowledge reserves to the test for the chance to earn (you guessed it) up to $1 million. Each must answer a series of trivia questions of increasing difficulty; if they get all 15 right, they get the million. Players have several "lifelines," which let them ask for help if they’re stumped, and they can walk away at any time with the money they’ve already earned. The daily syndicated version of the show is hosted by Meredith Vieira, but Regis Philbin stands in for the show's primetime "event" runs.
Is it any good?
This iconic show -- which made household terms out of phrases like "Is that your final answer?" -- remains a staple in the modern game-show industry. After a three-year heyday in primetime starting in 1999 (during which it was broadcast as often as four nights a week), the show moved to daytime TV and adopted some new rules, imposing time limits for contestants’ answers and adding a fourth lifeline option that was earned when a player surpassed a designated monetary value. Other minor format changes have occurred through the years, serving to streamline and expedite the show.
No matter which versio you end up watching, Millionaire continues to entertain families -- and the good news is that there’s no reason to sweat sharing it with your tweens and teens. It’s fun to put your own grasp of trivia up against the contestants' as you watch at home, and you’ll probably learn something new each time you tune in. The only issue that adults might have with the content is the deliberate mention of sponsors like AT&T, Skype, and AOL, but in today’s commercialized media market, even these instances seem slight.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about taking risks. How do you weigh the pros and cons of taking risks? Are you generally a risk-taker, or do you like to play things safe? What would you have done in a particular contestant’s position? When in your own life has taking a risk paid off?
How does the media market products? What, if any, product placement did you notice in this show? What benefits do show sponsors receive? Do you change your buying habits based on what you see on TV?
If you won a large sum of money, what would you do with it? How would your actions pay off in the long run?