Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

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Parents' Guide to

Life by Ella

By Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

A middle schooler attempts to rebuild her life after cancer.

TV Apple TV+ Comedy 2022
Poster image for the TV show Life by Ella. The lead actress is pictured sitting at the bottom of a flight of concrete steps that have been painted with a large red heart. She is smiling and holding a notebook in one hand, while her backpack sits on the ground next to her.

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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Is It Any Good?

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Kids say (3 ):

When it comes to media centered on kids with serious illnesses, the tone seems to be either syrupy sweet or dramatically dour. Life by Ella thankfully bypasses both these choices and just lets its main character be a realistic kid. It's not that she hasn't been changed by such a significant experience -- it's absolutely given her the perspective to see just how short-lived life can be and how important it is to live authentically in the time you've been given. But the series manages to convey this in a non-schmaltzy way.

It's also very real about the different (and not always admirable) ways that people around her process their own feelings about what she's gone through. Ella has a bestie who visited her in the hospital every day, but another who drifted away and just couldn't bring herself to face it. Her little brother struggles with feeling overlooked as their mom copes by hiding on the job and their dad channels his anxiety into obsessing over issues like nutrition and air quality. While these themes and feelings can be raw and complex, the tone of the show is still light, hopeful, and comedic, making it a good choice for families to view and discuss together.

TV Details

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