A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Lots of helpful social-emotional lessons about how to deal with emotions, teamwork, and more. Also some light history about New Orleans, where Little Ellen lives.
The show states that it promotes "managing emotions, resilience, and optimism," and it's all true. Ellen and her friends have tons of fun adventures while dealing with various kid problems. They're a great team, and the show sees them learning patience, perseverance, and adaptability to changing circumstances.
Positive Role Models
There are hints of Little Ellen growing up to be the real Ellen (DeGeneres), a confident and successful comedian, and Little Ellen is kind, curious, and a good friend. Gramsy is also a great representation of an older person with a close relationship to her grandkid and friends.
Ellen's main crew is racially, gender, and physically diverse (one BFF is smaller in size, while the other is larger-bodied). The diverse makeup and history of New Orleans is represented. Gramsy is older but always up for fun activities even though she needs to rest sometimes. Even Funky Chunk's backing band is ethnically and gender diverse.
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Violence & Scariness
Some tension when the kids go on a spinning ride and feel sick.
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One song uses the word "tushy."
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Products & Purchases
The series is based on the life of a real person who is a successful comic.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Little Ellen is an animated series about the adventures of a kid and her friends living in New Orleans. Loosely based on the life of comic and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (Finding Dory), the show teaches lots of social-emotional lessons through its simple stories about day-to-day life in the historic city. Ellen's main crew is racially, gender, and physically diverse (one BFF is smaller in size, while the other is larger-bodied). Language includes a use of the word "tushy." Those who've heard unpleasant things about the real DeGeneres might initially be skeptical, but Little Ellen stands alone as an outstanding pick for families.
Is It Any Good?
This bright, colorful, and warm series doesn't have much to do with the real Ellen, but that's OK -- kids don't need to know anything about the comic to enjoy these charming adventures. Visually, it's a delight to look at, with retro handpainted-style backgrounds of New Orleans' highlights. Ellen and her friends are funny (of course), kind, and sometimes frustrated by challenges; the show frequently finds them learning ways to adjust expectations and be resillient in the face of change. For example, a visit to a local festival doesn't go as planned; there are no blueberry beignets left, and they fail at dunking local musician Funky Chunk in his dunk tank (yes, it's Funky Chunk's Dunk Tank).
These lessons may seem small, but they're super valuable to the intended audience -- as Gramsy (the lovely, lively June Squibb) says, "Sometimes plans change, and that's OK." Ellen herself learns a powerful lesson when she can't cheer up her cat Charlie despite many efforts. She ultimately figures out that "being sad with someone you love is the happiest way to be sad." Excellent writing includes lots of fun wordplay that makes the series feel lived in and the relationships strong -- however you feel about the real Ellen, Little Ellen is a charmer.
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.