What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi cartoon is dark, sarcastic, and satirical. It follows a little alien space invader named Zim who wants to take over (and destroy) Earth. That goal leads to a fair amount of cartoon violence, mostly in the form of bashing about and laser gun use. There are no real lessons here, but younger tweens will probably find it entertaining.
What's the story?
Created by comic book writer Jhonen Vasquez, INVADER ZIM is the zany, satirical story of one little extraterrestrial out to conquer Earth. Sent away from his home planet, the Irken Empire, after a botched military exercise, Zim (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz) -- a narcissistic green space invader with a Napoleon complex -- seeks to submit Earth to his rule in order to prove his abilities to his elders. Accompanied by a silly robot named GIR (Rosearik Rikki Simons), Zim finds his conquering efforts foiled by his nemesis/schoolmate (Zim is mistaken for a child thanks to his undercover tactics) Dib (Andy Berman), who's the only human to realize Zim's true identity and mission.
Is it any good?
Invader Zim is a perfect example of a cartoon that straddles the line between children's and adult entertainment. It's full of dark humor, humans are depicted as less-than-intelligent life forms, and Zim has a complete lack of concern for life -- all of which might raise some parents' eyebrows. What's more, Zim's vocabulary is full of put-down words like "idiot" and "stupid."
As a result, families should be cautious about letting younger children watch Invader Zim. But tweens, older kids, and adults will probably enjoy the show's comedy of errors -- certainly many of us can relate to Zim's desire to rule the world and will enjoy his laugh-out-loud attempts to get some "space cred."
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about Zim's motives -- and how he goes about trying to achieve them. Why do you think he wants to take over the Earth? What is he trying to prove? And to whom? Is there a better way he could make his point? Families can also discuss the fine line between kid-oriented cartoons and those meant more for adults. What should kids do if they're ever uncomfortable with something they see on TV?