El Deafo

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
El Deafo TV Poster Image
Poignant reflection on life as a kid with hearing loss.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

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.

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Children who haven’t experienced hearing loss will get insight into what life is like for the hard of hearing.

Positive Messages

Positive messages about empathizing with and accepting classmates who are different than yourself, recognizing your own unique strengths, and adapting to a new disability.

Positive Role Models

Cece is kind and friendly. She is very good at expressing her complicated emotions around losing her hearing. She also is good at turning negative experiences around and making them positive, and remaining true to herself.

Diverse Representations

Great disability representation -- main character Cece becomes hard of hearing after a childhood illness. The series doesn’t flinch from showing the challenges Cece faces after losing her hearing, including getting different treatment from peers. However, Cece has lots of joyful moments too and is generally accepted by her classmates. She comes to think of her hearing loss as a superpower and becomes more comfortable with her new identity. Cece is voiced by deaf actor Lexi Finigan. The show is fairly good on gender and racial diversity as well (the characters are all rabbits but they have human-like variation in skin tone and hair).

Violence & Scariness

A scene where Cece is hospitalized is pretty emotionally intense. Some mean behavior like a new "friend" in class who tries to manipulate Cece. Cece fears she’ll be teased at school, but mostly kids are just curious about her hearing aid and don't engage in bullying behaviors.

Sexy Stuff

Some innocent childhood crushes.

Language

Some mild expressions of dislike between characters. A few instances of "stupid" and "dumb" but not used to describe people.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that El Deafo is a beautiful animated miniseries based on the graphic novel by Cece Bell. It tells the true story of main character Cece (voiced by Lexi Finigan), who experiences hearing loss after a childhood illness. There are some emotionally intense moments, like a scene early in the first episode when Cece is hospitalized. There's also a bit of mean-kid behavior when a new "friend" at Cece's school manipulates her. While Cece fears being bullied, her classmates are mostly friendly and curious about her hearing aid. Expect mild expressions of dislike between characters, and words like "stupid" and "dumb" are used, but not to describe people. Cece and her friends have a few innocent childhood crushes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 1, 2, 9, 11, 11, and 12-year-old Written byMinisu January 21, 2022
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byMark G. January 15, 2022
Kid, 11 years old January 14, 2022

Relatable

One time my brother watched too much Wubbzy and now i have to wear hearing aids to school.
Teen, 14 years old Written byLikeyacutg7 January 7, 2022

Excellent reboot of the iconic book.

Although it runs for 3 half-hour episodes, it tells a lot about a deaf child embracing her differences.

What's the story?

El Deafo is an animated TV adaptation of Cece Bell's award-winning graphic novel of the same name. Cece (voiced by Lexi Finigan) narrates her experience of growing up with profound hearing loss due to a childhood illness. After a scary hospital stay as a young kid, she's diagnosed with hearing loss and fitted with a hearing aid. When it's time for kindergarten, she goes to a school where all her classmates also have hearing loss. She learns how to lip read and is comforted to find out there are other kids just like her. Eventually Cece starts at a different school where she's the only hard of hearing kid, and she's petrified to be "different." Her worst fears are confirmed when she's watching TV and someone taunts a deaf character by calling him "deaf-o." She claims this insult as her own and adopts the moniker "El Deafo" as her superhero alter ego. Whenever things get tough, she escapes to a daydream in which she conquers all as El Deafo. As she grows up, she makes her first best friend, develops a crush, and goes through other coming-of-age rituals. Along the way, Cece reflects on the superpowers and challenges her hearing has brought to her life.

Is it any good?

This beautiful three-part miniseries doesn't easily draw comparisons to other kids' TV shows, in a good way. It has a slow, contemplative pace, and feels more like an animated diary than anything else. Deaf actor Lexi Finigan narrates main character Cece's real-life experiences. Her quiet performance draws the viewer into Cece's innermost thoughts. The show powerfully uses audio effects to help hearing viewers understand what Cece's world sounds like with hearing loss. Both these effects and Cece's narration combined will help kid viewers really feel Cece's joys and struggles. This powerful empathy may change how viewers treat kids in real life that are "different" than they are. The series doesn't shy away from depicting the obstacles Cece faces due to her hearing loss, but it also regularly shows Cece in joyful moments as well. Cece's disability is a part of her story, but it's not the only part. El Deafo is a masterful piece of storytelling that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Cece’s experience losing her hearing in El Deafo. Was there anything that surprised you about what it was like for her? How did her childhood feel similar to or different from your experience?

  • Cece is really worried about her classmates seeing her as different or weird. What's something you can do to help a classmate feel like they belong?

  • If you aren't someone who has experienced hearing loss, the sound in El Deafo might be the closest thing you can hear to help you understand what the world sounds like for those who have. Hearing the world through Cece's ears might help you feel empathy, or the ability to feel Cece's feelings of confusion and frustration as if they’re happening to you. Why do you think it may be beneficial to feel empathy and be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes?

TV details

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