Martha and Friends

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Martha and Friends TV Poster Image
Young crafters embellish positive messages with creativity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Along with positive lessons about getting along with others, being part of a team, and inspiring creativity, the show introduces a number of kid-friendly do-it-yourself projects that viewers can do at home...after visiting the show's partner website for the directions, that is.

Positive Messages

The tweens are good friends who respect each other and enjoy learning new skills together. Their commitment to cooperation makes them a great team, and they willingly set aside everything else to help a friend in need. When it comes to crafts, each person's ideas are met with enthusiasm and encouragement. Martha is the uncontested leader of the group, but she's never outright bossy, and she always takes into account her friends' feelings.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters demonstrate ingenuity, creative problem solving, and enthusiastic self-expression. Mutual respect and communication enable these friends to share their diverse ideas around the craft table and to reach a compromise when disagreements arise. A main character is a boy who enjoys crafting and usually adapts the feminine-themed projects (butterfly patches on jeans, for instance) to meet his needs.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The show began as brief webisodes associated with its originating site, www.marthaandfriends.com, which is heavily promoted at various times during the show. Viewers must log on to get instructions and recipes to replicate the crafts and food they see in each episode.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this multimedia animated series will inspire kids to be creative and express themselves through simple crafting and cooking projects that are incorporated into the show's plot, but multiple references to the show's website remind them that they'll need to go online to find out exactly how to replicate what they see the characters make. By itself the content has a lot of merit for kids, working positive messages about teamwork, respect, and overcoming insecurities seamlessly into each story and even casting a boy as a forefront character to challenge the concept that creativity is strictly a girl thing.

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What's the story?

MARTHA AND FRIENDS is an animated series that centers on a group of friends who have fun cooking, crafting, and creating together. On any given day, you can find Hannah (voiced by Allie Shea), Lily (Quinn Schlatter), Kevin (Sean Ryan Petersen), and Martha (Anna Paredes) busy creating in their decked-out workshop, trying their hands at everything from scrapbooking to embellishing their clothing. DIY queen Martha Stewart lends her name to this collaborative project, which got its start as webisodes before inspiring full-length thematic episodes like "Back to School Party" and a beach party celebration for the Fourth of July.

Is it any good?

Young Martha Stewart wannabes will find their own creative outlet in this well-rounded series that, despite its codependent relationship with its partner website, doesn't try too hard to promote its other half. Sure, the characters often draw viewers' attention to particular crafts or kitchen concoctions to better enable fans to find them on the website later on, but the references themselves don't distract from the show in the least, and there are no how-to tutorials to bog down the story's flow.

Even if your kids aren't the crafty type, Martha and Friends is a pleasant watch, and its stories explore issues that will ring true with grade-schoolers, like starting at a new school and overcoming personal insecurities. Each story works in worthwhile messages about relationships and self-confidence, so there's plenty of value even without the creative inspiration.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about self-expression. What hobbies do you enjoy that allow you to express yourself? How does your creative style reflect your personality? What other interests do you want to try?

  • Kids: What role does brand name play in influencing your likes and dislikes? What does the Martha Stewart name invoke? Do you expect a certain quality from her products? Do you think this show lives up to her reputation?  

  • What activities (cooking, sewing, building models, for instance) are stereotypically male or female? How do stereotypes affect our impression of what is acceptable behavior? Do you think these gender lines are becoming more blurred? Why or why not?

TV details

Character Strengths

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For kids who love being creative

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