How to Be Indie

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
How to Be Indie TV Poster Image
Racially diverse, female-centric tween comedy is very corny.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Though Indie struggles at times with her somewhat strict home life, the show places a high value on the idea of family, togetherness, and honesty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The crux of the show is Indie learning to navigate her world at home, living with her old-school South Asian parents and grandpa, and her desire to impress her peers at school by being "cool." The cast is ethnically diverse, with a great many female characters, and different family structures are referenced -- Indie's friend Dylan, for instance, is raised by a single mom.

Violence
Sex

The show's pretty squeaky clean overall, though there is a storyline wherein Indie catches her brother, A.J., spying on his "hot teacher" with a telescope, and it's mentioned that he's seen her in a towel.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that How to Be Indie is a half-hour sitcom from Canada that focuses on a teen girl struggling to fit in among her peers at school while still respecting her somewhat strict South Asian parents at home. The humor and plotlines are, generally speaking, extremely cheesy stuff -- nothing too controversial or deep. Kids may recognize the show's star, Melinda Shankar, from her role as Alli Bhandari on the superior Canadian import Degrassi: The Next Generation.

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What's the story?

HOW TO BE INDIE is the story of Indira "Indie" Mehta, a preternaturally spunky 13-year-old girl who just wants to fit in and have fun at school with her pals, like any other modern Canadian teen. This isn't always easy, however, because she tends to butt heads with her super-traditional (and way too strict, in her eyes) Indian parents, Jyoti and Vikram. Her paternal grandfather (known as "Babaji") also lives at home, along with Indie's smartypants brother, A.J., and competitive sister, Chandra. The show has a cookie-cutter approach to plot and humor, the only real difference being that this time the family featured is South Asian -- something that isn't seen nearly enough in entertainment.

Is it any good?

While it can't be understated how incredibly important it is for kids to see themselves represented in the media they consume, this show is so formulaic that it feels like just more of the same old corny sitcom stuff. Melinda Shankar has done fine work elsewhere (most notably on Degrassi), but her work here is all overwrought humor and played-out bits that just aren't that clever. She often talks directly to the camera, breaking the fourth wall -- a conceit the show creators also used on their similarly blah show Naturally, Sadie. How to Be Indie especially suffers when compared to shows like Fresh Off the Boat, which tackles similar issues with freshness, depth, and genuine humor. Overall it's a decent concept, but with mediocre execution.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why kids from families like Indie's might struggle to find their own identity when their peers at school act one way, but their parents and relatives at home have different ideas and values.

  • How is Indie's cultural background on How to Be Indie similar to or different from your own?

TV details

For kids who love tween TV

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