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Stars Earn Stripes (NBC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

Updated on August 18, 2012

This season NBC brings us a new reality competition series called ‘Stars Earn Stripes’. The show premiered on August 13th at 9/8c and is hosted by Wesley Clark (retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander) and Samantha Harris (former co-host of ‘Dancing with the Stars’). As is apparent from the title, in this show celebrities try to earn ‘stripes’. Each celebrity is paired up with a professional in special operations or law enforcement (these are the ‘operatives’), who will train and prepare the celebrities for the challenges.

The challenges are based on actual training exercises used by the U.S. military. After each episode one of the stars will be eliminated and the others earn a stripe, which is worth 10.000 U.S. dollars. After a star is eliminated the money they earned with their stripes will be donated to a military or veterans charity he or she chose to represent.

The pilot episode starts with an introduction of all the stars and the operatives.
The pairs are:

  • Dean Cain (‘Superman’) and Chris Kyle (Navy Seal)
  • Dolvett Quince (trainer on ‘The Biggest Loser’) and Andrew McLaren (Marine)
  • Eva Torres (professional wrestler) and Grady Powell (Green Beret)
  • Laila Ali (boxer) and Talon Smith (Navy Corpsman)
  • Nick Lachey (singer) and Tom Stroup (SWAT Commander)
  • Picabo Street (skier) and Brent Gleeson (Navy Seal)
  • Terry Crews (‘The Expendables’) and Dale Comstock (Delta Force)
  • Todd Palin (former First Gentleman of Alaska) and JW Cortex (NYPD)

After the pairs are formed Clark and Harris explain what the challenge is going to be, but before the teams are allowed to start the stars first have to learn the basics from their partners. Things they learn include how to hit a target with a sniper and how to breach a door. After their training, four teams are formed; each consisting of two stars with their operatives. They will have to work together to complete the challenge in as little time as possible. The challenge includes swimming, shooting targets, crawling through mud, and breaching a door and all this with full equipment on.

I won’t disclose what exactly happened in the challenge, but afterward the team that took the longest to complete the challenge will go to the shootout. The stars of these teams will have to shoot various targets and the first one to hit them all stays in the game. The other person will have to go home, but for every stripe he or she has earned 10.000 U.S. dollars will be donated to the charity he or she represented. The stars that stay in the game will earn a stripe and move on the the next episode.

One of the strong suits of ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ is that the celebrities genuinely seem to enjoy being on the show and even though they get dirty and it’s hard work they don’t complain. I certainly didn’t expect that since many celebrities participate in reality shows for the soul reason of getting some attention and maybe give their career a new boost.

The challenge was really well devised, but unfortunately all of the footage had to be crammed in very little time. It felt like only half of the challenge was shown because a lot of comments of the stars were shown, more than usual. Hopefully next time we will see more of the challenge and less comments.

During the course of the episode the celebrities get more and more awe for the things the operatives do on a day to day basis. They do really dirty and hard work and if one didn’t respect what they do for their country before, they certainly will now. This is exactly the aim of this show, to pay a homage to the men and women who serve America and to show us what they do. But other than that, it is just fun to watch other people get dirty while you are comfortably in your living room with a bag of chips.

What do you think of 'Stars Earn Stripes'?

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    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 5 years ago

      Hi Alecia,

      I have to say, of all celebrity reality shows, this one at least has an alternate motive, so it has that going for it. It may not be the best way to make people pay attention, but I'm pretty sure it's the most effective way. So who knows what this series may lead to. Having said that, the concept of using celebrities in these kinds of shows is pretty chewed out by now so I agree; it might be time to switch to some new ideas.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I really hope this is the last of these celebrity reality shows- this is beyond old- it's trite. Nobody wants to watch these things- at least I don't. Hopefully people tune out and it'll get cancelled.