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 Ever After High is a Mattel presentation that's closely aligned with a product line of fashion dolls and accessories marketed toward kids. The series tells the story of the teen descendants of fairy tale celebrities such as Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, who are at odds over their beliefs about destiny and free will. This divides the cast into three cliques and causes strife among them, but at the same time, it calls attention to some characters' impressive abilities to stand up to peer pressure and heed their own values. Kids who know their fairy tales will enjoy the show's creative interplay with this "next generation" cast, but parents will have an issue with the female characters' rail-thin, sexualized body types and frequent flirtatious behavior.
What's the story?
EVER AFTER HIGH is an animated series set in a boarding school attended by the sons and daughters of fairy tale celebrities. At the heart of the story is Raven Queen (voiced by Erin Fitzgerald), the daughter of the Evil Queen of Snow White fame, who's struggling with what her teachers say is her destiny: to follow in the footsteps of her nefarious mother or risk ceasing to exist. But Raven has no desire to be evil, which aligns her with the school's "Rebels," who believe in free will over fate. It also puts her at odds with classmate Apple White (Jonquil Goode), leader of the "Royals" clan, who feels that Raven's questioning her destiny seriously threatens the course of her own since their stories intertwine. With ideology driving a wedge between the Ever After High students, there's much doubt as to whether anyone will find a happily-ever-after.
Is it any good?
Much like Monster High, Ever After High is a joint Mattel endeavor of fashion dolls and a Web series. The marketing scheme is brilliant, of course, since those who watch the show inevitably will develop favorites among the characters and want the accompanying toys. There's nothing new here, as plenty of TV shows double as commercials for action figures and accessories, but the commercial angle is a factor to consider. You'll also want to scrutinize the subliminal messages about body image sent by the dolls themselves, who are impossibly thin, elaborately outfitted, and who (in the case of the girls anyway) defy the very laws of anatomical structure in their teetering high heels. The presentation is less like high school and more like a never-ending fashion show, but it is fun, and the creative interplay among the teens is especially entertaining if you know your fairy tales.
That said, there's something likable about how many of the characters address the show's burning question: Is destiny something you have to accept, or can you change yours by the choices you make? It's an issue that causes much strife among the teens and casts some of them as petulant and self-absorbed, but Raven's actions show kids the value in standing up to peer (and sometimes adult) pressure and doing what you know in your heart is right, even if it's not easy. It's also a good reminder that people usually are more than what their appearances suggest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between TV and movie characters and products such as toys, games, and accessories. Kids: If you like a character, are you more inclined to want items that have his or her image on them? Do you find yourself drawn to certain toys in the store because of what you see on TV?
Is Raven a good role model? Following her heart sometimes puts her at odds with adults. Is that OK in this case? Who do you think is right? Why do many of her peers feel differently from how she does?
Kids: Do you ever feel pressured to look or act a certain way because of your friends? Can peer pressure ever be a good thing? When it's a negative influence, how can you best cope with it?
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For kids who love fairy tale fun
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