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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that DC Super Hero Girls is an animated series based on the same-named web series. It explores the adventures of Wonder Woman (voiced by Grey Griffin), Batgirl (Tara Strong), Zatanna (Kari Wahlgren), Bumblebee (Kimberly Brooks), Supergirl (Nicole Sullivan), and Jessica Cruz (Myrna Velasco) during their teen years. Strong messages about girl power and the value of friendship are prominent in the stories, and the characters' hero work models positive teamwork and appreciation for each member's unique qualities. That said, the characters' actions aren't always perfect models; at times the girls come across as materialistic, self-centered, and painfully lacking in self-confidence. But by working together, they discover strengths they didn't know they had. Cartoon violence (punching, kicking, explosions, and general metropolitan destruction) marks all of their clashes with villains, but injuries tend to be short-lived.
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What's the story?
A fateful encounter in school detention leads to the DC SUPER HERO GIRLS, a new team of superheroes in the bustling city of Metropolis, where scheming villains try their hardest to wield control by force and trickery. Led by fearless Amazon warrioress Wonder Woman (voiced by Grey Griffin), Batgirl (Tara Strong), Zatanna (Kari Wahlgren), Bumblebee (Kimberly Brooks), Supergirl (Nicole Sullivan), and Jessica Cruz (Myrna Velasco) join forces and blend powers to keep the town's residents safe ... when they're not in math class, that is. And when duty doesn't call, her new teammates band together to help Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) learn all about being a "normal" teenager.
Is it any good?
This madcap series delivers on what the short-form show that preceded it couldn't: more time for viewers to get to know the teen versions of these familiar DC Comics characters. On the whole that's a good thing; they're all kinds of intriguing, and the mix of personalities certainly keeps things interesting and amusing. As these teen heroes come into their own and form bonds of friendship and teamwork, they also discover individual strengths they didn't know they had and learn to put them to use for the common good.
DC Super Hero Girls makes a compelling case for the entertainment value of female superheroes in a traditionally male-dominated field, but it also wanders into unnecessary gender stereotypes that distract from the positive themes of female empowerment. With so much going on, though, that's an easily overlooked blip in an otherwise effective argument for increased gender balance in superhero characters.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how character strengths like teamwork and determination stand out in the DC Super Hero Girls' adventures. How does courage show up differently in different characters' actions? Are we mere products of our circumstances, or do our circumstances inspire us to change ourselves?
How do these teen heroes compare to what you know of their adult selves? Is gender important to a hero's ability to do his/her job?
How are teen girls and women portrayed in the media? Has this changed in recent years? How are viewers influenced by what they see on the screen to assess their own body image and self-esteem? What positive female role models exist in entertainment?
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