A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Diary of a Future President follows the ups and downs of a Cuban American middle schooler whose experiences help prepare her for an eventual rise to the presidency. The show sets up its reflective look back at 12-year-old Elena's (Tess Romero) everyday life and then settles there for the duration, rather than bouncing back and forth between Elena's adult and tween personas. The show's honesty in dealing with issues like difficult emotions, stress, and troublesome people raises worthy talking points for families. Other topics -- menstruation, for instance, which is discussed frequently and frankly -- may inspire questions, depending on your kids' age and awareness. This feel-good series features a diverse cast, a strong family unit, and a hardworking, self-assured tween who aspires to -- and eventually achieves -- great things.
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What's the story?
In DIARY OF A FUTURE PRESIDENT, Elena Cañero-Reed (Gina Rodriguez) revisits the musings in her middle school diary, reflecting on how the challenges she overcame at that point in her life helped prepare her for a political career that brought her to the White House. As she reads and remembers, the setting changes, and we meet 12-year-old Elena (Tess Romero), her widowed mother, Gabi (Selenis Leyva), and her older brother, Bobby (Charlie Bushnell). Having just started middle school, Elena finds it filled with uncertainty, disloyal friends, academic pressures ... and then there's a curveball she's not expecting at home! As Elena's life takes one turn after another, she details the ups and downs in the diary that years later helps tell her story.
Is it any good?
Romero's charisma helps elevate this show, which otherwise runs the risk of being overlooked because of its overall mellow vibe. There's no shtick, no gags, no hyperbolic silliness for laughs; instead it's a straightforward and relatable look at the unpredictable late tween years, happily guided by a smart, industrious, well-rounded kid. Because the story gives away the ending at its start with Elena's ascent to the presidency, it's easy to settle in and watch things transpire without wondering where events will take her someday.
From puberty matters to social drama to winging it on an assignment after mixing up the due date (yikes!), Elena's day-to-day issues hit close to home and mostly keep to appropriate topics, but the extent of some discussions, especially surrounding periods, may not be for all families. But talk about crushes, periods, and other timely concerns don't overwhelm Diary of a Future President's content -- there's still plenty of room for strong messages about family relationships, adjusting to change, and working hard toward your goals.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Elena's strong self-awareness in Diary of a Future President. What do you think accounts for it? How does it help her weather the storms that come at home and at school? Can you relate to Elena's self-confidence? In what kinds of real-life situations would this strength be most valuable?
What influence does Elena's Cuban heritage have on her determination to succeed and achieve? How do her mom's stories of coming to America help inspire Elena? What family traditions do you have that reflect your own cultural background? Why is the United States called a "melting pot"?
A recurring theme in this story is adapting to change. Why are resilience and perseverence such vital characteristics in success? When have you learned valuable lessons from change that was difficult or unwelcome?
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