Brats on the Loose
After returning from vacation, I held my own TiVo marathon to catch up
with ABCs hit summer reality show, Brat Camp, and am suitably hooked.
It throws nine disturbed, hostile or otherwise problem-causing teens into a harsh
wilderness therapy program the Oregon-based SageWalk where the rigors of outdoor
subsistence get them to face their issues. The show feels honest and is unexpectedly
moving the pain these kids are in is heartbreakingly palpable but what sticks
out is what the producers dont do: throw emotional basket cases into an elimination
scenario with trumped-up drama. I was reminded of what bugged me about NBCs The
Biggest Loser, which worked as hard as a treadmill rat to set up its overfed
and fed-up participants as sympathetic weight-loss hopefuls, only to crudely graft
onto the already dramatic situation a Survivor-ish competition in
which people vote each other off, whether theyve made progress shedding pounds
or not. A whole show about abandonment issues could be formed from such ousted
contestants alone. Brat Camp certainly has a tension element: Will
Jada curb her obsessive lying? Will Frank control his penchant for violence? Will
nine sets of parents get a more focused, less self-destructive child at the end?
But at least a viewer can feel secure that Brat Camp isnt out to strike fear
into a troubled soul that theres one more group they might be ostracized from.
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