Student Body

TV Review: Student Body/Queen Bees

By Marilyn Moss

July 9, 2008

Airdate: “Student Body” at 8:00 p.m., Sunday; “Queen Bees” at 8:30 p.m. (Nick at Nite/The N).

Although these two new reality series from the network that caters to teens are aimed at high school kids, anyone who has young children should take a good look and then take a long, deep breath. This is reality that truly bites — and stabs and maims — showing us the superficial state of affairs that teens have to live with every day.

While “The N’s Student Body” and “Queen Bees” are clones of reality shows from other networks, they whip up a particularly unsettling view of the world because they focus on younger generations — what they have to look forward to, what they’ve already become. It’s a sad state of affairs, defined by self-absorption and fear and loathing of others.

“Student Body” and “Queen Bees” look especially like clones of each other, with identical formats, lots of narration, fast editing styles and clips of events that run by us at lightning speed. More so, each show sends a not-very-subtle message to its teens: You’d better be better than everyone else around you or else.
“Student Body” focuses on a group of teens who compete to lose the fat and get in shape. It’s an eight-episode series where we meet kids who already are champions in their own way: an accomplished musician, an athlete, an academic overachiever. But each has extra pounds to shed, and if one can do better than the others, there’s a big prize at the end: $25,000 to be used from their school’s facilities and programs. That’s the one good part: The money goes to community of sorts. As expected, on their way to the big prize, we’re privy to all the sweating, suffering and physical and mental angst that goes into the game. Sound like anything else on the air?

The eight-episode “Queen Bees” is a little harder to take, grouping together a bunch of teenage girls who epitomize “meanness.” Each girl thinks she’s entering a contest to become the “biggest diva in the house,” but in truth each is brought in to be told off — and be challenged to change. Again, the prize is $25,000 to the girl who can change the most and go from pure narcissism to maybe having a nice thought about someone else from time to time.

It’s a long shot, of course, but the way the format goes, someone has to succeed. The true winner is the show itself — if success is measured by looking like almost every other reality show around.

Both premieres are simultaneously airing on Nick at Nite. After the initial episode, “Student Body” moves to its regular slot at 8 p.m. Sundays, followed by “Queen Bees” at 8:30.

Reprinted with permission from The Hollywood Reporter.

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