A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Touches on themes like empathy, compassion, and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Despite being dealt a very rough hand, Ella shows a lot of determination to rebuild her life and is demonstrably grateful that she has the chance to do so. Her friends and family members are not without their quirks but are caring and loving in their own unique ways.
Ella's dad takes a more traditionally "feminine" role as the homemaker and caretaker. Her besties and school staff come from various ethnic backgrounds. Attention is paid to wheelchair users and kids living with potentially terminal illnesses.
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Violence & Scariness
The subject of being seriously ill may be frightening to very little kids, but that's about it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Life by Ella is a show centered on a girl healing from a bout with cancer. Understandably, the show deals with topics like terminal and serious illnesses with a real emphasis on "seizing the day" while you can. There's nothing graphic or upsetting enough to make it unsuitable for younger kids, but they may have trouble deciphering some of the deeper themes.
Is It Any Good?
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.
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.