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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cupcake and Dino -- General Services is a quirky animated series about the hilarious experiences of a mismatched sibling pair that does odd jobs around their nonsensical hometown. Like Adventure Time, this series plays on the unexpected for laughs -- characters that look like pool toys and food items, tiny characters with oversized personalities, and absurd story plots -- and it blends animation styles in appealing ways. Unusual monster types appear at times (an oversized mustache that threatens the town, for instance), and there are moments of mild peril, but overall the content isn't threatening. Expect occasional insults ("jerks," "baby lips") and an uneven but ultimately loyal relationship between naïve Dino and his calculating brother, Cupcake. With some help, kids can find themes of self-confidence, friendship, and kindness in many of the lighthearted stories.
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What's the story?
In CUPCAKE AND DINO -- GENERAL SERVICES, two brothers do odd jobs in and around their hometown in a quest to corner the market on the general services industry. Diminutive Cupcake (voiced by Justin Collette) is the brains of the operation, a schemer with big ideas and an even bigger inferiority complex. His brother, Dino (Mark Little), has a sunny and optimistic nature that counters his brother's severity and brings joy to everyone around him. Together these siblings set out to help their neighbors and make a name for themselves in a bustling city of quirky residents and unusual happenings.
Is it any good?
Add to the growing niche of oddball cartoons this delightful buddy comedy about mismatched brothers whose differences never define them. On paper, Cupcake and Dino have nothing in common -- they don't look alike, they definitely don't think alike, and their contradictory approaches to problem-solving mean they're rarely on the same wavelength even when they're working side by side. But what they lack in symmetry, they make up for in affection for each other, and it's this unexpected cohesion that makes Cupcake and Dino -- General Services a lot of fun to watch.
This show's titular characters are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unusual sights of Big City, a place where each resident is a little quirkier than the next and it's par for the course to see a human, a hot dog, and a chicken visiting on a street corner. Cupcake and Dino's sense of humor matches the nonsensical visuals with slapstick, absurdity, and just a hint of adult-minded laughs. It's utter absurdity, of course, but the very appealing themes of friendship, individuality, and kindness more than make up for that.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how what we see on TV shapes our view of the real world. Have you ever changed your mind about the way the world is or should be because of something you saw in a movie or TV show? How can entertainment inspire us to do good in the real world? Is it fair to compare the TV world and the real one? Why or why not?
What character strengths like compassion do you see in Cupcake and in Dino? Are both characters good role models? If so, is it for the same reasons or for different ones? How are sibling relationships more or less difficult than friendships? Are Cupcake and Dino brothers and friends? How can you tell?
Is there value in silly, light entertainment like Cupcake and Dino -- General Services? Do TV shows and movies always have to have an educational component to be worthwhile? Is it possible to learn just as much from characters who do things the wrong way as those who do things the right way?
- Premiere date: July 27, 2018
- Cast: Justin Collette, Mark Little, Mark Forward
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Character strengths: Compassion
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: January 11, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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