Parents' Guide to

Ellen's Acres

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Imagination can't save Eloise wannabe.

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In theory, Ellen's adventures sound like lots of fun for kids -- especially those who like make believe themselves -- but some aspects of the series may raise parents' eyebrows. Though it's spun to highlight the advantages of imaginative play, Ellen's solitary lifestyle and complete lack of interaction with other kids (a la Eloise) is a little troubling. Because she's surrounded only by adults -- including parents whose involvement is limited to summoning her for an errand or responding to her tall tales with a distracted "That's nice, honey" -- Ellen is forced daily to create playmates for herself. Inventive and resourceful as she is, her actions seem to speak to an intense loneliness.

What's more, the constant transitions to and from the world of imagination add unnecessary chaos to the already jumbled show style, and Ellen's monotonous overuse of "actually ..." -- which cues viewers that she's taking them back to reality -- soon begins to sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. Parents who watch with young kids may need to point out what's real for Ellen and what's pretend, since it's sometimes difficult to tell.

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