Should You Watch Breakthrough With Tony Robbins?

by | July 27, 2010 at 11:29 AM | TV News

Self-help guru Tony Robbins breaks through NBC's prime time lineup tonight.  (NBC)

Self-help guru Tony Robbins breaks through NBC's prime time lineup tonight. (NBC)


Should you watch tonight’s premiere of NBC’s new series, ‘Breakthrough with Tony Robbins’? Robbins’ mere presence on TV in a format other than an informercial provokes powerful curiosity. Given the feel-good format of this reality series, you wonder what took him so long to get here. (Robbins infomercials have aired nearly nonstop for 30 years, so perhaps he’s been busy.) And given the amount of trashy reality shows that deliver low-brow messages, you hope that the modern day progenitor of positive thinking can deliver an inspiring and powerful and positive hour of TV. So does he? Should you watch? Here’s the breakdown.

Premise: Robbins helps people “overcome complex challenges and personal obstacles, and turn their lives around. Consider: Frank and Kristen. At their wedding reception two years ago, Frank jumped into a pool and broke his neck. Now he’s a quadriplegic and full dependent on Kristen. As Robbins says, it’s a situation that few relationships could survive.

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Message: After 30 years of preaching self-help, Robbins comes with his own ready-made format: Rewrite your story, confront your real issues, discovery your inner strength, and own your breakthrough. Got it? OK, now DO IT!

Pros: “Breakthrough fulfills the fantasy that a team of miracle workers — with limitless budgets and resources — can come through for a stranger with a dramatic rescue package,” wrote the NY Times’ Alessandra Stanley. “For those few who are selected for a Robbins intervention, however, “Breakthrough” definitely provides a well-deserved lucky break.”

Cons: “Among the many irritating things about today’s Exhibit A — “Breakthrough With Tony Robbins,” yet more trash television from NBC — is that it’s another daytime-caliber show that somehow crashed the prime-time schedule, one more sign of age-old barriers and dividing lines crumbling in the cable age,” wrote Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales.

Yikes: “There’s a good argument to be made that it’s one of the most atrocious TV shows of all time,” wrote Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin. “ It’s a couples version of the original sob-sister reality show, the 1950s era Queen for a Day…Breakthrough has removed the competitive element but substituted humiliating Fear Factor-style challenges for the guests asking for help.”

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins airs tonight at 8 PM on NBC.