Craig of the Creek
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Adventure, affirming messages stand out in appealing series.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Intends to entertain rather than to educate, but characters' adventures remind viewers of the benefits of imaginative play, which allows kids to be heroes of their own making.
Kids see Craig and his friends immerse themselves in a world of make-believe that fills needs in all their lives. Imagination leads them on adventures that challenge their abilities to solve problems, overcome fears, and work together. The characters aren't strangers to adversity; each faces emotions like loneliness and feeling overlooked, but friendship and time at the creek are positive outlets.
Positive Role Models
Adults not very prominent in the series, but viewers do meet Craig's parents and grandparents, and they're portrayed positively: Bernard as the corny dad, Grandma as an activist who loves to run, etc. In the case of Kelsey's dad, he's a single parent who works a lot, so he spends little time with her. Craig and friends generally find their own way; among themselves, they are loyal, kind, courageous.
Craig and family members are Black. Among supporting characters, racial diversity can be found in skin tones, but overt cultural markers are usually absent, with writers preferring to portray universalities like kids loving candy or playing tag. LGBTQ+ characters appear in minor roles; lesbian couple Tabitha and Courtney hold hands and share a kiss, while J.P.'s sister is in a relationship with a girl named Kat. Kelsey is being raised by a single dad who works a lot, and his absence causes loneliness, but she's shown to have a positive relationship with him regardless. A recurring character is deaf and teaches Craig American Sign Language.
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Violence & Scariness
Some suspense and mild scares, as when an unknown being pops out of the woods and frightens Craig and his friends.
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Occasionally "stupid" and "dumb."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Craig of the Creek is an animated series from Matt Burnett and Ben Levin, the creators of Steven Universe. Given this background, it's no surprise that Craig of the Creek feels similarly inclusive, following Craig (voiced by Philip Solomon) -- who's Black -- and his family and racially diverse friends. In minor roles, lesbian characters appear (in fewer than 10 of the show's first 120+ episodes). It's set in and around a nature area that's a beacon to neighborhood kids, who flock there because it offers them a place where their imaginations can run wild and they don't have to answer to anyone else's expectations. Creativity, joy, adventure, individuality, and self-discovery are recurring themes in stories that celebrate the simple truths of childhood. Craig and his friends experience some outside pressures at home, including sibling spats and distant parents, but they find camaraderie and loyalty among their peers at the creek.
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Craig of the Creek
Based on 14 parent reviews
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A pleasant show of African American Family life that is not political or divisive.
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What's the Story?
CRAIG OF THE CREEK follows the adventures of best friends Craig (voiced by Philip Solomon), Kelsey (Georgie Kidder), and J.P. (H. Michael Croner) in the uncultivated neighborhood play area known as the creek. It's a place known only to kids and legislated by playground rules rather than grown-up law, and it's where all the best quests for glory happen. As the oft-overlooked middle child in his family, Craig craves a place where he can be himself, whether that's silly, serious, or somewhere in between. With his friends by his side and the creek as his sanctuary, there's nothing standing in Craig's path to adventure.
Is It Any Good?
This series has a throwback quality about it that's really appealing in a time of device overload. For Craig and his friends, the creek is a mecca, a place where anything can happen and they can be anyone they want. Imagination and creativity rule the day, and the hassles of real life get checked at the entrance. It's a place where being tagged as "it" can ruin your life, until you and your friends craft an ingenious solution to an age-old problem like the endless game of tag.
Craig of the Creek touches on some issues that could strike a chord with kids, like abrasive sibling relationships and a child's view of a parent's long work hours. The stories usually don't address these weightier issues directly, but their presence does help explain why the kids so readily embrace the freedom and opportunity they find at the creek.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how family relationships are presented in Craig of the Creek. How do the different characters' family structures affect what they seek among their friends? Is any one family structure or dynamic perfect? What makes family relationships complicated?
Kids: Can you relate to Craig's style of imaginative play? How does make-believe help you discover things about yourself that you otherwise might not? What freedom does your imagination allow you that more structured play doesn't?
What positive character traits do you see at play in Craig, Kelsey, and J.P.? In what ways do they demonstrate their ability to persevere in difficult circumstances? When are they brave? Besides these three, are there other good role models in this series?
- Premiere date: March 30, 2018
- Cast: Georgie Kidder, H Michael Croner, Philip Solomon
- Network: Cartoon Network
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship
- TV rating: TV-G
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 13, 2022
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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.
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