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 this series is geared toward tweens and centers on positive themes like self-confidence and teamwork. Kids will enjoy the karate sequences, which feature some impressive acrobatics as well as some slapstick comedy. There's little in the way of negative content, although it's worth reminding tweens that the characters' mostly adults-free lifestyle is hardly realistic. Teen relationships are limited to flirting, and instances of bullying (mostly related to schoolyard pranks, although at least one instance raises the issue of cyberbullying) are easily resolved by the teens within the 30-minute time limit. Expect a fair bit of potty humor, too.
What's the story?
KICKIN’ IT is a comedy series about a group of friends who use their martial arts skills and the lessons they learn from the sport to navigate the uncertainties of teen life. At center is Jack (Leo Howard), a self-confident skater type who reluctantly joins a subpar dojo called the Bobby Wasabi Martial Arts Academy after meeting the students at his school. The academy has different significance in the lives of ragtag members Jerry (Mateo Arias), Milton (Dylan Riley Snyder), and Eddie (Alex Christian Jones), but when Jack arrives, they all hope his skills will help give the place a sense of prestige. Under the direction of the sensei, Rudy (Jason Earles), and with newcomer Kim (Olivia Holt) on board, this unlikely team is ready to take on the world.
Is it any good?
Kickin’ It attempts to woo the coveted tween set with silly comedy, extreme characters, and impressive martial arts sequences, but on content quality, it's a bit of a lightweight. Everything from the oddball array of teen characters to the crazy predicaments in which they find themselves feels a little forced, and parents will notice (although tweens probably won't) that the absence of responsible adults leaves the teens to their own devices most of the time. This set-up makes for plenty of fun times, but it's hardly a realistic reflection of its viewers' lives.
That's not to say that the show is all bad. The karate sequences are fun to watch, and the show's humor is undeniable despite its fantastical nature. It even manages to work in some positive messages about being a good friend, trusting teammates, and having confidence in yourself. Jack in particular is a likable character, since he stands up to peer pressure and takes the lead in steering his friends in a mostly ethical direction. The bottom line? It's not destined to be a classic, but the show's intended messages are sound, even if the presentation is lacking.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about teamwork. What qualities are important in a good team member? How does being part of a team enhance people's individual talents and skills? What makes someone a strong leader?
Kids: What aspects of this series seem realistic to you? Which ones don't? Do you like this show's style of exaggerated comedy? In what ways is your life different from the characters'?
Did you see instances of bullying in this show? If so, who did the bullying? Who was the victim? How did the experience affect those involved? Have you ever witnessed bullying? What can you do to stop it from happening?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.