Austin & Ally
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series geared toward tweens centers on a positive relationship between a boy and a girl who bond over a shared love of music. Their friendship, which develops from an initial dislike of each other, is a good reminder that relationships with the opposite sex don't have to evolve into romantic intentions. The story itself is a bit far-fetched, thanks to the unlikely absence of adults to monitor the teens' unrestricted movements, and it does prompt thought about the role the Internet plays in assigning fame. On the whole, though, there's no reason to worry about the content, which often calls on silly sight gags and quirky characters for its laugh-a-minute comedy style.
What's the story?
AUSTIN & ALLY is a comedy series about polar-opposite teens who form an unlikely friendship through their mutual love of music. Fun-loving Austin (Ross Lynch) dreams of performing before adoring fans, but when it comes to writing songs, he lacks creativity. Serious and uptight Ally (Laura Marano) has a knack for expressing herself through the music she writes, but her shy nature keeps her from sharing her gift with anyone. When a chance encounter brings them together, they don't exactly hit it off, but then Austin strikes overnight Internet fame with a video of himself performing one of Ally's original songs, and they face off again. What begins as a contentious battle of wits softens into a friendship that just might help both of them follow their dreams.
Is it any good?
It's no secret that Disney favors fresh-faced young talents who can also carry a tune, and Austin & Ally's style is in perfect keeping with the likes of Hannah Montana, Lemonade Mouth, and Wizards of Waverly Place, all of which have spawned soundtracks and bolstered singing careers for their marketable stars. The star power is slightly diminished in this latest addition to the ranks, but Lynch and Marano do make a harmonic (if not exactly flashy) pair, which you can bet was Disney's intention. And while their friends are making beautiful music together, Austin and Ally's sparring sidekicks, Trish (Raini Rodriguez) and Dez (Calum Worthy), keep the mood light with their offbeat antics.
There's also merit to the story's statement about relationships, and kids will recognize how changing their perspective and giving each other a second chance led to the characters' successful partnership. Ultimately the story is rooted in a fantasy-filled and fairly sterile view of teen life, but it does present a healthy boy-girl friendship that encourages each partner to expand his or her horizons and isn't encumbered by the pressures of a developing romance.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about friendship. What character traits do you share with your friends? In what ways are you different from each other? Have you ever been surprised by a relationship you've developed with someone? How did it exceed your expectations?
Tweens: What are some of your life dreams? How do they relate to your hobbies or reflect your values? How likely is it that you could make a living doing something that you love? What would be the rewards of such work?
Have you ever felt that a TV show or movie was trying to sell you something? How does subliminal advertising work? Do you find yourself gravitating toward products that bear the names or faces of your favorite stars? Is there anything wrong with that?