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 WWE reality series includes frequent strong language ("f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped), lots of conflict, and occasional real violence. Compared to the average weekly episode of WWE wrestling, there is far less suggestive sexuality, though contestants do wear form-fitting clothing. Expect a good deal of drinking and smoking from characters while not performing in the ring.
What's the story?
WWE TOUGH ENOUGH features a group of 12 contestants living together and competing through physical and emotional challenges for a contract as a WWE wrestler. Acting as mentor is WWE icon Stone Cold Steve Austin, aided by a trio of judges and trainers. From tasks as humble as sweeping trash in a vacant arena to challenges as grueling as three minutes of sustained running across a regulation ring, the process is meant to separate the strong from the weak, and the committed from the reluctant. The wannabe gladiators must push themselves to new physical endurance in order to impress the judges and earn a coveted spot in the WWE.
Is it any good?
More than an actual WWE series, Tough Enough seems more like a gateway show into the WWE for people who aren't wrestling fans. Though it's got its share of quasi-dramatic conflict and trashy behavior, it's almost restrained compared to the typical soapy adult circus that is World Wrestling Entertainment. Of course, that assumes degrees of trash -- on the reality scale, Tough Enough is far more sensationalized than The Bachelor or the Real Housewives franchise, but not nearly as scandalous as Jersey Shore.
Tough Enough trots out all the classic reality tropes -- faux drama, brutal competitions, heartbreaking stories of folks who just want to find fame and fortune to help their family and friends. It offers a very real sense of the physical and emotional toll on the lives of wrestlers and does a great job of spotlighting how hard they have to work for the fleeting thrill of performing before 15,000 fans a night. Like most reality series, it offers little redeeming value aside from its platitudes endorsing hard work and commitment, and there is questionable behavior that parents will want to watch for. Ultimately, the contestants and trainers on the WWE's reality series are actually better behaved than Snooki and JWoWW. Who saw that coming?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about wrestling's heightened depiction of fake violence. Does it have the same impact as more realistic violence on television? Why or why not?
Is professional wrestling more of a sport or a performance? How so? What do you find entertaining about it?
How does sexuality play into the wrestling culture? What are the stereotypes about men and women that are reinforced or challenged by these shows?