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 Annedroids casts a tween girl as a science genius who loves to solve problems using her expertise in engineering and computer programming. She's also happy to share her knowledge with her friends, who then join her in exploring the possibilities of science. The kid-geared show sets out to inspire viewers' interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects, and it incorporates many scientific concepts in each story. Strong themes about friendship and positive self-esteem are evident throughout the show as well. A recurring plot point is the kids' effort to keep their activities secret from adults in their lives (particularly from one curious parent), but there's good reason behind it, and they're never in danger because of their stealth. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to point out to your kids that the scope of what these young characters do without supervision (such as building a giant android, for instance) isn't realistic. The upside? This gives you plenty of opportunity to hash out your kids' own creativity together in a secure learning environment of your own making.
What's the story?
In ANNEDROIDS, life in a new town gets infinitely more interesting when Nick (Jadiel Dowlin) and his new acquaintance, Shania (Adrianna Di Lello), wander into a neighborhood junkyard and befriend genius kid scientist Anne (Addison Holley) and her two homemade androids, Hand and Eye. In the midst of creating her most complex android yet, Anne collaborates with her new friends to put the finishing touches on Pal (voiced by Millie Davis), a walking, talking Personal Android Lifebot who develops human-like behavior through observation and mimicry. Now these six friends team up to solve all kinds of engineering problems with the tools and supplies in Anne's junkyard and a little creative thinking of their own.
Is it any good?
This series takes what you and your kids have come to expect from gender roles on the screen, yanks out the circuitry, and reworks it entirely. It starts with Anne, an unapologetic science whiz with a particular knack for robotics and computer programming AND (gasp!) a winning personality. She's a quirky mix of Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown and '80s free spirit Punky Brewster, complete with electric clamps and twisted wire to tie back her hair. She's whip-smart without being either nerdy or a know-it-all, and she revels in making new discoveries with her friends. Working opposite her are Nick, an earnest and kind-hearted kid with less experience but plenty of enthusiasm for learning; and eccentric Shania, who provides much of the show's laughs but proves she's no slouch in the engineering bay herself. Furthering the theme of blurred gender rigidity is Pal, whom Anne designed to be neither male nor female and who incorporates characteristics of all three kids through mimicry.
But this fresh take on gender roles is only one of many well-conceived qualities of Annedroids. Beyond its obvious agenda of pushing STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, and math) content, it aims to show the fun side of being smart, particularly in the sciences. So, although your kids will come away from any given episode with a better understanding of concepts such as the scientific process and what a defense mechanism is, they're more likely to be inspired by how much fun the characters have making hypotheses, testing theories, and, especially, learning from their failures. Oh, and speaking of those failures, they're often messy, which fits in nicely with the show's refreshingly honest portrayal of life -- and people -- on a bigger scale. There's no such thing as perfection here, and it isn't a venue for fashion lines or the latest decorating trends; it's a place where beds are sometimes unmade, houses are modest, and neighborhoods include an unsightly junkyard that holds the keys to inspire the characters' greatness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why science and math are important topics to learn. How does understanding how things work help you in your daily life? Is numbers sense a valuable skill? Has our easy access to technology made us less deliberate in acquiring knowledge that's easy to find at a moment's notice?
A famous quote is, "Necessity is the mother of invention." What does this mean to your kids? To what degree is technology always evolving? What inventions have made your life easier or more fulfilling? Are there any drawbacks to advanced technology?
What problems can your kids identify around them? Can they think of a way those could be solved? What tools and supplies would the project require? Is it something they could do with your help?
- Premiere date: April 19, 2013
- Cast: Addison Holley, Jadiel Dowlin, Adrianna Di Lello
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Great boy role models, Great girl role models, Robots, Science and nature
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: Streaming
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