*not* the kids themselves, but the families they're in
  1. 12.
    drake's family
    his mom was the WORST. she never shut up about how they were raising their kids in silicon valley, or how her son goes to private school, or how he's a tennis prodigy, or literally anything else. all the other parents clearly hated her, and with good reason. she was straight up mean to her son, and her husband was a jerk. drake has a mini meltdown and quietly asks his dad if he can forfeit and go home, but his dad responds with "no, you're not a quitter". ugh
  2. 11.
    jenna's family
    jenna was only on the show for a single episode, which was all i wanted to see of her family. after she has a breakdown and tells her parents she can't compete in the next round, they tell her it's okay... but ask her every other second if she'll reconsider. when you finally think they've accepted that she needs to go home, her mom asks once more if she can just try. just let the girl go home
  3. 10.
    chancellor's family
    chancellor's mom ranges from extremely strict to lowkey nice. the at home footage showed chancellor and his parents living in a damn palace, since his mom was a wall street something or other. his dad is chill and pressures the mom to take it easy on their son, but her harsh, sometimes mean parenting brings their ranking down
  4. 9.
    sam's family
    sam clearly doesn't want to be at the competition, but no one seems to care. he's had a few breakdowns now, but his parents don't seem to care. in the last episode, after being randomly drawn to go first, he has a meltdown and claims the producers have no respect for him. i want him to get eliminated just so he can go home and chill
  5. 8.
    gianna's family
    poor gianna. her parents have to learn to get along after a divorce that was almost certainly awful. gianna's dad thinks her mom pushes her too hard and doesn't make her study very much when she stays with him. it escalates to fighting about who's study style is more effective and leads to the tear jerker moment when gianna walks away and says, "it's hard for me to see them fight"
  6. 7.
    claire's family
    claire's parents are extremely strict (homegirl practices piano for six hours a day) and sometimes demand way too much from a ten year old, but they clearly love her. and as my mom confirmed, they share the firm and fierce asian parenting she experienced from my grandma. it really is part of the culture
  7. 6.
    selah's family
    watching the slow transformation from "we're just normal chill parents who think these other parents need to calm down" to "SELAH ARE YOU EVEN TRYING COME ON" is subtle and hilarious. only selah's dad succumbs to this change, while her mom watches in shock as she learns this is the person she married
  8. 5.
    iris' family
    iris' mom is like jaden's in that she's a little out there (she's all about yoga, day spas, poetry, and nature) but again, clearly had her daughter's best interest at heart. she was never mean and supported iris with love
  9. 4.
    arnav's family
    arnav's mom is strict, but it comes off much more loving than other parents on the show. his dad is the "fun parent" without the recklessness that often comes with the title
  10. 3.
    jaden's family
    the homeschooled ("unschooled", as they call it, due to the unstructured nature) paleolithic family of jaden is a bit kooky (my favorite moment is when the mom said she liked homeschooling because the curriculum wasn't being controlled by the government). but they really love their son and understand he has limits. overall cool
  11. 2.
    adrian's family
    adrian's mom is a single parent and is the perfect balance between strict and fun. adrian's dad is a douchebag who suddenly show up when his kid is on tv and attributes all his son's successes to himself. adrian's dad brings the family average down to second place
  12. 1.
    vivek's family
    vivek's dad won me over when vivek left the stage in tears and his dad kissed his forehead and told him not to cry. his mom is pretty chill and his dad just seems like a good guy