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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite a far-fetched plot and some cheesy acting in H20: Just Add Water, there's a fair amount to like about this Australian fantasy drama series for tweens. The characters struggle with realistic issues like peer pressure, popularity woes, and self-esteem -- and, in the end, usually conclude that they're happy to be their own unique selves. The series also underscores the strong bonds of friendship, though it seems to do so at the cost of strong parental roles, since the girls keep their life-altering secret from their folks. There's very little iffy content to worry about -- no language, violence, or drinking, and only a bit of flirting.
What's the story?
In H2O, three teens' lives are changed forever after their boat strays to a mystical island off the Australian coast and magical forces transform them into mermaids with unique powers to control water. Back on land as normal teenagers, Emma (Claire Holt), Rikki (Cariba Heine), and Cleo (Phoebe Tonkin) wrestle with mixed emotions about their newfound abilities but slowly discover that their uniqueness definitely has some hidden benefits -- even if it can't save them from the bullies and social snobs of the world. The complete series is available on DVD along with at least five hours of bonus material.
Is it any good?
H2O's cast isn't likely to earn many acting awards (there's a fair amount of hokiness in most of the performances), and the premise is so far-fetched that it's sure to have teens rolling their eyes, but this fantasy drama is a fun escape for tweens. Girls especially will relate to the characters' struggles with learning to accept their own individuality (though their fishy circumstances are a bit extreme...) and overcoming social pressures. They may also be inspired by the trio's strong bonds of friendship and the selfless way the girls use their powers to help others.
Meanwhile, parents can smile over the fact that they don't have to endure overzealous Aussie acting to monitor what their kids are seeing, since there's virtually nothing worrisome here for the tween set. In fact, there are even subtle positive messages about self-esteem and respect for differences sprinkled throughout the plot. The only sticking point lies in the girls' refusal to trust their parents with their secret -- and the adults' apparent oblivion to their kids' life-altering changes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media portrays teens, particularly girls. Do the girls on this show have both positive and negative traits? What are they? Do you think they're realistic characters? How do the teen girls in this series compare to the ones you know? In what ways are certain personality traits exaggerated for effect?
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