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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Magical Girl Friendship Squad is an animated series about a pair of 20-something best friends and roommates who are visited by an otherworldly talking red panda who gives them superpowers so they can protect her life. Humor is mature, and filled with iffy topics. The characters drink and do drugs; there are lots of jokes about smoking pot, even though we don't actually see it. We do see the characters heading out to get "super drunk" and "super laid" -- they guzzle liquor at a bar and then one of the pair wakes up with a woman in her bed and an intense hangover that makes her vomit. Their battles with large supernatural creatures are also played for laughs but there's blood, sci-fi/fantasy energy bursts that disable rivals, and afterwards, the super pair must dispose of the dead bodies (which leaves them covered with blood in one scene). At a comic convention, a male fan asks Alex and Daisy to sign a doctored photo featuring the two dressed provocatively and in a sexy pose. They refuse and respond to the request with violence. Daisy's parents belong to a religious cult -- they wear white costumes and headgear and have conversations about saving souls (they also hiss at Alex's parents). Alex and Daisy use magical objects to channel their powers. Alex's is a pack of birth control pills, and Daisy's is a bong. The pair generally tries to treat others with kindness -- faceless villains, however, are dispatched quickly and with no emotions. Alex is a woman of color and Daisy is a White women; both have atypical body types for anime, yet both wear brief costumes that look modeled on Sailor Moon. They often subvert this trope by wearing more comfy garments, like hoodies, on top. Language is frequent and includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "dammit," "a--hole," and "bitch."
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What's the story?
MAGICAL GIRL FRIENDSHIP SQUAD's Alex (Brianna Baker) and Daisy (Anna Akana) are just your average pair of behind-on-their-rent best buddies. Until one average day a mysterious talking red panda (Ana Gasteyer) visits their apartment to tell them she's a world-building goddess whose life is in danger, and she's anointed them to be her super-powered protectors. They name the panda Nut, accept their new powers and their new station in life, and set to work protecting Nut from the series of villains that start showing up to battle. But when a fellow goddess clues them in that Nut's got hidden depths and (dark?) secrets, the duo must rev up for their greatest battle yet.
Is it any good?
With its mature humor, language, and references to drugs, Syfy is clearly going for an Adult Swim vibe with this series. But though Magical Girl Friendship Squad outing has charm and looks great, the humor isn't as sharp as Adult Swim's best. In fact, if viewers stop watching Magical Girl Friendship Squad after just a few short (usually well under five minutes) episodes, they could be forgiven for thinking that the format is intolerably dull. The first episode, when Nut shows up to spill a bunch of exposition and gift the girls their magic powers, is agreeably loopy surreal fantasy, but then the episodes settle into a groove: the girls go about their daily lives, a giant turtle or monkey shows up, battle ensues, the world is safe for Nut (for now).
But Magical Girl Friendship Squad has more on its mind than spoofing the kind of pink-and-purple-drenched female-aimed anime exemplified by Sailor Moon, and that becomes clear in episode 4, when Alex and Daisy are invited to appear at HeroCon to display their new powers. Chuffed at the recognition, they spiff up their costumes and show up for their appearance -- only to find themselves opposed by male comic book fans wearing shirts emblazoned with "Gamergate" and "Pepe." "You could smile more," says the multi-headed creature the fanboys morph into. "Show us your boobs -- c'mon, we're nice guys." By the time the squad's storyline progresses and they learn that Nut's presence in their world may be more complicated than it first seemed, it's clear that the show has something to say about both female-centered anime and the treatment of women in general -- and it's something anime fans might appreciate hearing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lack of action-oriented animated series aimed at girls. What are your favorite female superheroes? What makes superheroes good role models for girls? Are Alex and Daisy good role models? Why or why not?
What animated shows is Magical Girl Friendship Squad spoofing? How can you tell that this is a parody? What elements of this show are similar to others? How are they skewed so the effect is ironic instead of sincere?
Families can also talk about body image in the media. Alex and Daisy's costumes are short and brief, yet we see that their body types are different both from each other and from the typical female body type shown in anime. What do you make of the fact that anime characters often look very much alike, and that female characters are usually young and quite thin? Can the images that viewers see affect how they view themselves?
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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.
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