TLC debuts two new self-help, feel-good reality series tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET. First, there’s Honey We’re Killing the Kids!, which follows Dr. Lisa Hark as she scares children and their parents about their crappy eating habits. She does that by showing kids and their parents “a frightening look at the possible future faces of their children” using a computer, TLC says. Then, she “works with parents to reverse course and give their kids a healthy diet and active lifestyle.”
At 10 comes Shalom in the Home The series stars Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and in each episode he “helps families overcome their thorniest problems” over a 10-day episode. The Rabbi shows up to homes across America in a high-tech trailer that serves as his office and own personal NSA, as he watches the family’s interaction through hidden cameras. Then, he sets about trying to fix their problems, sort of like a non-secular version of Dr. Phil married with Judge Judy. In a column describing his new series, he says that, as a society, “we focus far too much on peace in the world at the expense of peace in the home,” and this is his attempt to fix that problem. And it’s clear that this is his show more than it is the family’s.
The first family he tackles is in the process of divorce, and the kids are going crazy. He tells the Philadelphia Daily News, “In this first show, you find all the important problems — fidelity, teenage sex, divorce, adultery, absentee father. We try to deal with the problems holistically, though, and that is the uniqueness of the show. In most family shows, they try to solve one problem, but you can’t fix one end of the family if the other end is broken. You have to do lots of things together.”
The Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert says Boteach is “judgmental,” “self-righteous and manipulative in his hunger to restore peace.” The Arizona Republic’s Bill Goodykoontz says the series “rises above the usual level of this kind of thing for one reason, and one reason only: the show’s ‘star,’ Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.”