What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that boy-girl relationships figure prominently in this teen cartoon, which means there's physical contact like kissing and hugging as well as some innuendo relating to sexier stuff like erections and bedroom noises. The characters are average teens who occasionally push boundaries and suffer the consequences, and their missteps are at the heart of the show's humor. While this makes them less than stellar individual role models, as a whole they illustrate the ups and downs of teen life and the benefits of having true friends to lean on through it all. Silliness, gross-out humor (farting contests, zits, etc.), occasional language ("ass," "boobs," "sucks"), and the kind of fantasy that's to be expected from a show set in a mall will keep your teens' attention, but that's offset by an ethnically and socially diverse group of characters who muddle through relatable predicaments and find a sense of belonging with each other.
What's the story?
6TEEN is a Canadian cartoon that centers on six teenage friends whose lives converge every day at the local mall, where they all hang out and hold down after-school jobs to varying degrees of success. There's Jen (voiced by Megan Fahlenbock), a type-A personality and star athlete; sweet but flighty fashionista Caitlin (Brooke D'Orsay); and free-spirited Nikki (Stacey DePass). Nikki's self-obsessed boyfriend, Jonesy (Terry McGurrin), is also Jen's stepbrother; laid-back Jude (Christian Potenza) just goes with the flow; and the easygoing musician Wyatt (Jess Gibbons) rounds out the group. When school's out, these teens' social lives revolve around the comings and goings of the shopping center's customers and the funny and unusual happenings within the mall.
Is it any good?
It's no small feat to balance teens' desire for edgier content in their shows with parents' quest for some degree of innocuous entertainment for this impressionable viewing audience, and to toe this line in a cartoon is even more impressive. 6teen doesn't ignore the fact that teens have a growing awareness of relationships, sexuality, and life events; rather it crafts storylines that incorporate these issues in comical ways that still manage to leave teens with a positive view of friendship, dating, and handling the unexpected coming-of-age woes in their own lives. Yes, it does paint a mostly carefree picture of the characters' lives that might not entirely jibe with your own teen's, but that's also what keeps the content so light-hearted.
This is one of those cases in which the show's animation style might entice an unintended crowd of younger viewers, so be sure to keep this one off your younger kids' watch list. Teens can find the humor in the characters' antics and individual personalities without mistaking their actions for a playbook for life, but the same can't be said for kids' less experienced judgment.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what the media says about relationships between teens. Do you find that what you see in movies and on TV reflects what you experience among your peers? Which shows tend to be more realistic than others?
Do producers have a responsibility to moralize the TV shows, movies, music, etc. that we consume? Who decides where the line exists between entertainment and sensationalism? Have you ever been surprised at the nature of something you've seen or heard on TV?
Watch TV commercials and look through magazines for ads. In what ways is sex used as a marketing tool? How effective is this tactic?
Scan job ads online or in print. What skills do you have that lend themselves to particular jobs?