A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The purpose of the show is to entertain, not educate.
Courage and teamwork are primary themes throughout. Protecting others and helping when others are in trouble. Sea creatures are valued and considered equal. The importance of peace and friendship.
Positive Role Models
Aquaman and his teenage sidekick Aqualad show courage when tackling various monsters who threaten the kingdom of Atlantis and other sea life, often putting their own lives in danger for the greater good. Although Aquaman is the hero, he is not afraid to ask for help, either from Aqualad or other marine life, whom he can command telepathically. There are hardly any female characters, and when there are -- such as Aquaman's wife, Mera -- they are often sidelined or simply need saving. The motivation of the villains varies from seeking power to simply causing destruction. The characters are also predominantly all white, with any non-white characters being aliens or otherworldly beings. The Justice League of America wade into conflicts between other worlds. Though they are portrayed as heroes, their involvement could be interpreted in a negative light, particularly from a "white savior" perspective.
Violence & Scariness
Each episode involves some kind of peril and threat, usually in the shape of a monster or alien intent on causing harm to others. Monsters include one who fires acid from its tentacle, a volcanic monster who is on fire, and a sword and trident-wielding giant. Fights include punching, grappling, and throwing objects such as boulders. Spaceships fire at others and stun guns are used to zap people. There are a number of explosions. Minor characters are occasionally killed although there actual deaths occur off-screen. Some threats about killing. A city is seen on fire. Sea animals butt, bite, and attack. Characters are abducted and imprisoned. Violent storms with fiery meteors crashing to the ground. Substantial threats to Earth and even the universe. Characters are hit in the head and sometimes become momentarily unconscious.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nothing untoward, but characters' outfits often reveal plenty of leg. Characters are occasionally seen shirtless.
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Some hostile language such as "puny ones." Also plenty of catchphrases such as "holy hurricanes." "great Icarus," "great Scott," "suffering catfish," and "jumping jellyfish."
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Products & Purchases
No consumerism within the show. But Aquaman is part of the DC universe and as such there is plenty of tie-in merchandise from comics to toys.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Aquaman is an animated series from 1967 -- featuring the DC superhero -- with each episode consisting of mild threat, peril, and cartoon violence. Each standalone episode finds Aquaman (voiced by Marvin Miller) taking on some kind of villain in the shape of a monster or alien. These villains range from a one-eyed acid throwing sea monster to a sword-wielding giant. The violence is very cartoony, but there is punching and objects, such as rocks, are also thrown. Occasionally it's alluded to that a (minor) character has been killed, although their actual death occurs off-screen. Although Aquaman -- along with his sidekick Aqualad (Jerry Dexter) -- often finds himself in danger, he's never in any real jeopardy, largely because he is able to "command" the ocean's marine life to come to his aid. Fish, whales, seahorses, and other sea creatures become involved in the action, biting and butting as they aid Aquaman. Each episode features a guest appearance from a member of the Justice League, such as Superman and Flash, although they also appear as a collective. These adventures are often more perilous than Aquaman's solo outings, with a greater threat to Earth and even the universe. The show is very white with Aquaman bearing little resemblance to Jason Momoa's version of the character. Any non-white characters are restricted to being aliens and otherworldly beings. There are also few female characters -- there's no sign of Wonder Woman, for example -- and where they do appear, they are restricted to the role of being saved by the male superheroes.
Is It Any Good?
Having first aired in 1967, this animated TV series, with DC's aquatic superhero at its center, will cause feelings of nostalgia for some, but will feel dated and out of touch to younger viewers. Originally part of the The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, this version of Aquaman has been repackaged into less than 30 minute episodes. Each episode consists of two segments solely centered around Aquaman's adventures, which sit either side of a third segment featuring one, if not multiple members of the Justice League, including Superman, Atom, and Green Lantern -- although Wonder Woman's absence is notable.
Of course, judged against today's own standards, the animation looks tired. But it is vibrant and the action whizzes along. With each segment less than 10 minutes long, the writers waste no time in fitting in as many explosions, fights, and showdowns as possible. Any gaps in the plot -- and there are a lot -- are filled in by a narrator or one of the characters. And while Aquaman finds himself in a perilous situation each episode, he never feels in real danger, on account of the fact that he has the ocean -- and all that live in it -- at his beckon call. The Justice League segments provide more substantial threat, and even death. But the real issue with the show is how white and male dominated it is. There are hardly any female characters, and when they do appear they usually require saving or are cast aside allowing the men to do the fighting. There are also few characters of color, with any non-white characters playing the role of aliens, monsters, and otherworldly beings. When viewed through today's lens, it's an issue that is difficult to ignore.
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.