A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series teaches the importance of friendship, kindness, and loyalty, as well as highlighting when toxic behavior crosses over into bullying. Themes include accepting and celebrating differences, working together, and learning lessons in responsibility and respect.
Positive Role Models
Anne is confident, inquisitive, and fearless, but she also sometimes breaks the rules and shows insolent behavior, as well as putting herself and others in danger. She grows to show some respect and responsibility and becomes less judgmental, opening her mind to the positive influence of others. Sprig finds a kindred spirit in Anne and proves himself a loyal friend in the process, learning to accept himself and growing in confidence as Anne supports him and challenges him to leave his comfort zone.
The lead character is Thai American, and her two best friends from the human world are White and Chinese Americans. They are well-developed and don't adhere to stereotypes based on their ethnicity. It's also acknowledged that Anne is a different species to her frog friends, with an older character calling the relationship “unnatural” at one stage, but Anne and Sprig say they’re best friends and lean into their friendship harder. There's some discussion of gender when Anne calls Sprig’s toys “dolls” and he argues that they're “action figures,” and an episode tackles gender expectations when Anne sees Sprig’s little sister, Polly, spitting and forces her out for “girl time” -- which involves a spa, haircuts, dress shopping and afternoon tea. But Anne concludes that both girls and boys can enjoy those activities (confirmed by Sprig and his guardian, Hop Pop) and that Polly is perfect just as she is. Not much diversity in terms of body type (the three main human girls are quite tall and slim); disability beyond Hop Pop using a cane; or sexuality, as any crushes or relationships mentioned are all heterosexual.
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Violence & Scariness
Some scenes involve peril or show characters in worrisome situations. Characters are frequently chased and threatened by large insects and other amphibians. A huge mantis threatens Anne and Sprig in one scene; in another, a girl is held captive by a sinister-looking toad. Characters are caught in traps, chained, threatened with fire and pitchforks, stabbed through the chest with a laser sword, electrocuted, and fall from great heights. There's also punching, headbutting, and sword fighting. Supporting characters die during the series, and there's mention of the death of parents. Skulls and other bones are shown. Some violence is used for comedy effect, such as sandpapering a tree character’s face and throwing termites at it until it becomes a small stalk, and an exaggerated fight with robots where their eyes are pulled out. Anne and Sprig develop a "friend punch," which involves hitting each other quite hard on the arm.
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Occasional negative language includes “heck,” "jerk," "stupid," “dumb,” “weird,” “loser,” “deadbeat,” “slob,” “dang,” “twerp,” “moron,” “ugly,” and “gangly.” Anne’s last name, Boonchuy, is changed to “Boobchuy” on a few occasions, referring to breasts in an immature way.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amphibia is an adventure-filled series about Anne, a Thai American girl and a talking frog who forge an unusual -- but ultimately fulfilling -- friendship in a world populated by amphibians and insects. Anne is a very likable role model for kids; she faces challenges with a can-do attitude, she acknowledges when she's done wrong and attempts to make up for it, and she learns to value the true and loyal friendship she finds with her new pal Sprig. Anne's past experiences raise issues related to bullying that invite parents and kids to discuss similar topics. Expect frequent scares when oversized insects or seemingly sinister characters appear, making this series a better choice for grade schoolers and up than for very young kids. That said, this visually intriguing series has broad appeal, lots of humor, and can be a fun pick for family viewing.
Is It Any Good?
Sprig and Anne's adventures are a joy to behold, mostly thanks to their delightfully compatible personalities and the sweet friendship that develops between them. Though Anne has had experiences with what she assumed to be friendship, her interactions with Sprig convince her that friendship is actually something quite different -- and quite a bit more wonderful -- from what she had thought. In Sprig's case, he'd long been a bit of an outsider in his swamp home, but coming to know Anne helps him step out of his shell and embrace life in new ways.
Meanwhile, the mystery about how Anne came to Amphibia and how she might get home unfolds slowly, involving characters with questionable motives and some surprises. As Anne reflects on her past, the story illustrates issues like bullying and emotional manipulation in ways that will resonate with kids and tweens and can prompt discussions about the topics. Amphibia's quality writing, endearing characters, positive themes, welcome diversity, and visual appeal make this a truly enjoyable pick for families to watch together.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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