Genre: Reality TV
TV Rating: TV-PG
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Available On: Online
Common Sense Says: Flash mobs reveal emotional secrets in gimmicky show.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mobbed is a reality show in which important moments -- ranging from marriage proposals to being reunited with a long-lost family member -- take place during orchestrated dance performances known as flash mobs. The flash mobs are arranged to surprise people appearing on the show, so they may display a range of emotions, some ugly or disturbing to watch -- i.e. bursting into tears or yelling. Some contestants appear on the show to reveal secrets that may dismay viewers or contestants' loved ones, such as out-of-wedlock babies. Hidden cameras record footage that sometimes shows Mobbed participants in a bad light and may make viewers uncomfortable. Host Howie Mandel and his cohorts lie to those appearing on the show in order to further their pranks, which may confuse young kids who are told to be honest at all times.
- Families can talk about why Mobbed uses the gimmick of gathering a group of dancing strangers to highlight an emotional moment. What does the flash mob add to or take away from these intense moments?
- Howie Mandel and others who work on Mobbed lie right to show participants' faces in order to set them up to be surprised by the flash mob. Does the end justify the means in this case? Does it make you uncomfortable to watch someone who's being tricked?
- Why would people participate on Mobbed instead of just, say, writing a letter or making a phone call to tell their loved ones a secret? What do you suppose participants get out of appearing on the show that they couldn't get with a private interaction?
What's the story?
On MOBBED, host Howie Mandel orchestrates flash mobs, conglomerations of total strangers who gather in public spaces to perform rehearsed dances to the surprise of those around them. But the flash mobs are only the means to an end on this reality show: Contestants who appear on each hour-long episode have a secret that they want to reveal to their loved ones. Sometimes it's something sweet, like when a boyfriend asks for Mobbed's help to propose to his girlfriend. Other times, it's rather intense, such as one contestant's revelation that she'd had a baby six years ago and hadn't told her family. Contestants share their secret with the camera, and Mandel and company set up the flash mob as the viewer watches the plan come together. All is revealed by show's end with an elaborate flash mob production number that brings together contestants with their loved ones while the secret (and subsequent reaction) is played out on camera.
Is it any good?
Aren't flash mobs old news? Fox's late arrival to the flash mob party on Mobbed smacks of gimmickry and is past-its-sell-by-date. Even the show's premise is a bit of a head-scratcher: People who come on the show want to reveal a secret to someone, and they choose to do it in front of a national audience, in the form of a flash mob, for ... what reason, now? It's hard not to come to the conclusion that the show's flash mob aspect is just stuck in there because watching contestants call up their loved ones to reveal their secrets wouldn't be as telegenic.Plus, Mobbed's element of surprise basically reduces the show to an elaborate set-up for a hidden camera prank. So watching Mandel's crew recruit and train the flash mob is about as interesting as it would be to see a behind-the-scenes version of Candid Camera, i.e., not very. What is interesting is watching participants struggle with their intense emotions, and viewers may find themselves tearing up during the reveal segments. But the 40 minutes of prep leading up to those heavy emotional moments are a bit of a snore, and a gimmicky snore at that.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Some of the contestants featured on Mobbed are seeking ostensibly positive experiences, such as reuniting with lost loved ones, but choosing to do it in the form of a televised flash mob is an unusual decision, to say the least. The idea that it's worth lying to someone in order to get a good TV reaction from them is put forward by Mandel and his team.
Role Models: Mandel is sometimes rather mocking toward contestants and may treat them badly in order to get a particular emotional reaction -- or even lie right to their faces to get a prank moving.
What to watch out for
Violence Some people have angry or emotional reactions to finding out a secret.
Sex: The show's focus is on surprise and prankish dancing, not sex, but at least one contestant used the program to stage a wedding proposal, after which the couple was immediately married on-air.
Language: Some bleeped cursing by Mandel and surprised contestants: "Oh, f--k!"
Consumerism: Mobs are staged in public places; the logos of venues are flashed on screen, sometimes repeatedly.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue