A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 100 Things to Do Before High School follows three tweens' adventures as they attempt to make their middle school years memorable. It's not likely your kids will follow the characters' leads in many of their bucket-list items (driving a crane without permission, for instance), but their smaller infractions, such as lying to teachers or cutting class -- which are cast in a comical light -- might warrant reminders about appropriate behavior. There's a fair amount of lighthearted stereotyping among the school's population, from an unreasonable principal to a hulking, dimwitted hall monitor. This series is hardly realistic, but it's a lot of fun and has some great things to say about the value of friendship.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
For newly minted seventh-grader CJ (Isabela Moner), high school always seemed like the much-anticipated reward for making it through the trials of middle school. But when her older brother bursts her bubble with tales of copious homework, hectic schedules, and disappointments at every turn, she starts to worry it's not all it's cracked up to be. Even worse? There's talk that high school spells the end of lifelong friendships as people find disparate interests and begin to drift apart. CJ can't imagine life without her BFFs, kid genius Fenwick (Jaheem Toombs) and newly popular Crispo (Owen Joyner), so she sets out to make the rest of middle school a series of epic adventures the three will never forget.
Is it any good?
100 THINGS TO DO BEFORE HIGH SCHOOL has a lot going for it: a talented cast of quirky but endearing characters, an ample level of outlandish unreality, and a comically dystopian vision of teen life that flies in the face of rosy-glasses offerings such as High School Musical. Even though the show hints at legit high school woes such as over-scheduling, tough classes, and social anxieties, it does so in such a lighthearted way it's unlikely they'd cause angst for your tweens the way they do for CJ.
What the show does do is reaffirm the value of strong friendships that have stood the test of time. CJ is flanked by her two best friends -- both boys -- for every adventure, and there's no boy-girl awkwardness or hints at anything besides a refreshingly comfortable companionship. Even though the show's setup promises their situation is doomed in the future, thus inspiring their list of last-chance adventures, their clear devotion to each other suggests that really won't be the case. Given the many laugh-out-loud moments, viewers will most remember a decidedly positive view of tween relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the show presents the social hierarchy in middle school and high school. What groups exist within the school populations? How do they interact? How does the show's example compare to your tweens' experiences?
Kids: Why is CJ afraid of losing her best friends as they get older? Have you observed relationships drifting apart as you've grown up? Is this an inevitability, or can you do anything to control it? With whom do you share a longtime friendship?
When you watch a show or a movie, do you compare the characters' experiences to your own? What about their appearances? How does what we see in the media shape our self-image?
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