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Carmen Sandiego

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Carmen Sandiego TV Poster Image
Globe-trotting thief's action-packed origin story.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

The series incorporates geographical knowledge into its plot in organic ways. In each new place, Carmen and her team arm themselves with information about the topography, climate, people, cuisine, economy, relative location, and culture to move around easily and to execute their mission.

 

Positive Messages

Even though Carmen is labeled a thief, her intentions are altruistic and she works for the common good, which is implied forgivable in her case. She steals only so that V.I.L.E. operatives can't, and she always returns the items to their rightful owners. Good and evil generally are easy to discern, but there are some characters' whose identities remain a mystery for several episodes at least. In contradiction to her good intentions, V.I.L.E. thieves put their mission above everything else, including respect for the lives of others.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Carmen is smart, resourceful, and determined to succeed on every mission, not for her own gain but to disrupt V.I.L.E.'s plans. Although she was trained as a thief, when faced with the choice between right and wrong, she chose right and never looked back. She never shows defeat and always believes there's a way out of any predicament. She and her team use knowledge about different locations and cultures to their advantage to maintain safety and peace in each new place. Her teammates are savvy in different ways, but each is of great value to her work. Of course, none of this changes the fact that she does break laws to accomplish her goals, but it lends some justification to her intentions.

 

Violence & Scariness

Some hand-to-hand exchanges, including punching, kicking, and the use of weapons like staffs and electromagnetic pulse wands. In a few cases, it's suggested that the V.I.L.E. operatives will kill witnesses to protect their own identities. Accidents that would cause serious injury or death in real life -- such as falling from atop a building or jumping from a speeding truck -- don't have any ill effects for the characters. Some peril for Carmen and her friends in high-stakes missions.

 

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

This series is inspired by the game villain of the same name and a previous TV series called Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carmen Sandiego is a new take on the story of the infamous thief of 1990s games and TV fame. In this version, Carmen's still a thief, but she's more of a Robin Hood-style character, lifting items of historical and cultural value to prevent them being taken by V.I.L.E. operatives, then returning them to their rightful owners. This makes it easier to think of her as a hero and overlook how she goes about doing her job. Other than her thieving, Carmen is a fantastic role model -- intelligent, altruistic, and willing to challenge authority to do the right thing. Expect some peril and many action sequences that show characters fighting, but no injuries to speak of. The show incorporates solid geographical and cultural information into its plot in creative ways and shows the characters using that knowledge to foil the bad guys' schemes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMeg-atron January 18, 2019

Educational, entertaining and she's a great female role model!

This puts a great spin on a classic. I grew up playing the games as a kid and I've enjoyed the various versions over the years. This is by far the best I... Continue reading
Adult Written byAFishFam January 21, 2019

Great for all ages - nice update of a classic

Great for all ages - nice update of a classic. Educational about geography, history and culture without hitting you over the head with it.
Teen, 15 years old Written byCaptainWonder January 20, 2019

Great role model, she is smart and action packed

Carmen Sandiego may seem like a villain but she’s only stealing from other villains and even stops villains from harming other people. Carmen is smart and deter... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 12, 2019

Educational and packed with action

Not going to give out any spoilers, but this show is educational but exciting to watch. Many fighting scenes but none are very violent and no blood. Carmen Sant... Continue reading

What's the story?

CARMEN SANDIEGO is the origin story of the notorious and mysterious titular globe-trotting thief who made her debut as a video game and TV series character in the early 1990s. In this imagining, Carmen's (voiced by Gina Rodriguez) story begins as an orphan baby raised among apprentice thieves on a remote island. When she comes of age, she trains alongside her classmates Tigress, Crackle, Le Chevre, and El Topo, excelling in ways that indicate a promising future as an operative. But when the truth about the V.I.L.E. organization's true mission -- and its real name (Villains' International League of Evil) – Carmen escapes and sets about thwarting their nefarious capers around the world. Together with her hacker friend, Player (Finn Wolfhard), and her teammates, Zack and Ivy, Carmen races to safeguard the world's treasures from the clutches of V.I.L.E. agents and herself from the planet's most determined Interpol inspector.

Is it any good?

Everybody's favorite thief returns in grand fashion in this exhilarating series with a crack female lead and her arsenal of gadgets, perception, and . . . geography? Carmen Sandiego refreshes the best of the former iterations of the red-clad character; she's smart, crafty, and loves the thrill of the chase and the feel of clutching quarry from the hands of her adversaries. What's changed most is how much more we know about her now, and that just makes her all the more endearing. Instead of stealing artifacts for the V.I.L.E. organization, Carmen is the world's best defense against the group's schemes, and she's in league with detectives Zack and Ivy now instead of competing with them.

Carmen Sandiego never was a particularly threatening baddie, but the fact that she's adept at breaking and entering and an accomplished thief made her the obvious antagonist of her story. That's different now, and it's much more fun to root for her than against her. Also surprisingly fun is how this show incorporates solid geography lessons into each episode, introducing kids to basic facts about each new location on Carmen's travel list. Not only is this content good for viewers' sense of different places and cultures, it's also a reminder that knowledge can be an effective tool against the world's ills and one's enemies.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how heroism is defined. Can a hero be someone who does something wrong for the right reason? Should a person's intent be considered when judging his actions? In what ways is Carmen Sandiego a hero? Can it be argued that she isn't one?

  • What character strengths do you see in Carmen? How does she display courage and determination? In what ways do Player's technological skills help the team? To what degree does their insistence on doing the right thing make them even more formidable?

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  • Carmen had to stand up to her friends in order to do the right thing. Is that more difficult to do than defying enemies? Have you ever been in a situation that put you at odds with your friends? How do you defend yourself against peer pressure and bullying?

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TV details

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