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.