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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Some modeling of how to be a good friend, but also lots of lying and sneaking around and not respecting adult authority.
Positive Role Models
One one hand, lead character Harriet thinks fast on her feet and has good problem-solving skills. She appreciates when her friends and nanny help her. On the other hand, she models some negative behavior like lying and disobeying adults, and does not face consequences for this behavior. She makes skipping school to go on her "spy" missions seem fun and glamorous. She's not outright mean to anyone, but she is fairly rude in some scenes.
Lead character Harriet is a girl who behaves counterstereotypically to gender roles, breaking the rules and being assertive about what she wants. Her best friends are a Black girl named Janie and an Asian boy named Sport -- though their characters are relatively shallow as Harriet is the star. Some borderline-stereotypical representations of women needing to enhance their appearances to get what they want, and a housekeeper played by a woman of color.
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Violence & Scariness
Some mild moments of dislike or mistrust. Some mild tension on Harriet's spy adventures, but she's never in actual danger.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One plot line emphasizes the importance of attractiveness -- a woman needing to get her hair done in order to make an important business deal.
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Some mildly rude language like "butt" and a few instances where characters put each other down behind each other's backs.
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Products & Purchases
Harriet lives in a glamorous and unrealistic setting -- a giant single family home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harriet the Spy is an animated TV series inspired by the book by Louise Fitzhugh. Though the self-centered and sometimes rude Harriet was never meant to be a role model, she has some admirable qualities, like her pluck and ingenuity. There's some mildly rude language like "butt" and a few instances where characters put each other down behind each other's backs. Also, there's a fair amount of consumerism as Harriet lives in an unrealistically nice home in Manhattan and includes a cast of mostly wealthy people.
Is It Any Good?
This just-OK adaptation of the classic kids' book unfortunately feels like it was created by people who are not very plugged into tweens' interests. The first episode follows Harriet's obsession with whether or not a wealthy Upper East Side woman will recover from her mental breakdown in order to launch a doggy-clothing business. Kids who may have been hooked by the premise that a kid could skip school and go on a spy mission may be let down by the unrelatability of her spy subjects. There are some funny moments and clever spy ruses to be sure, but he charm of the book doesn't quite translate here, and so kids who are into sleuth stories will be better served by the original.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
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