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 this '60s cartoon doesn't just feature the eponymous ant, but another, secondary cartoon as well: the Hillbilly Bears. The ant-focused shorts offer fairly standard animated superhero violence, plus women in peril and (reflecting its original era) stereotypical minority villains. Any kid who watches cartoons has seen plenty of that. But Hillbilly Bears could be an unwelcome introduction to the practice of expecting an entire region -- or nation -- to conform to a certain stereotype.
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What's the story?
ATOM ANT is a mid-'60s Hanna-Barbara cartoon about a superstrong, superfast flying ant. Sometimes he works at the behest of the police, stopping, say, gangs of picnic-stealing ants on motorcycles, and sometimes he fights bad guys on his own. The show's includes cartoon shorts featuring the adventures of the Hillbilly Bears, a sort of combination of the Beverly Hillbillies and the Flintstones.
Is it any good?
It's not exactly clear why he's "Atom" Ant; perhaps it's his superpowers making him the futuristic ideal of an ant. Older kids will laugh at his souped-up headquarters -- an anthill featuring a giant computer/telephone a la the Jetsons, along with a large collection of barbells -- but younger ones may well enjoy the flying and the spectacle of an ant lifting cars and the like.
As in Mighty Mouse -- and, really, all the superhero cartoons of the era -- female characters are invariably in peril and stereotypes like Latin lovers abound. While these generally go over the heads of young viewers, older kids will easily spot them for what they are. As for the Hillbilly Bears shorts, there's really very little humor beyond the stereotypes and the pratfalls, but at least it's short.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Atom Ant and his determined ways -- in addition to being heroic, he's rather stubborn: He wants to triumph his way. Is that always a good thing, or are there other ways to get what he wants? Families can also discuss the Hillbilly Bears. Is it mocking stereotypes, or playing into them? How are today's cartoons different from this show? Do you think they've gotten better? Why?
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