A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
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.
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
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.
Products & Purchases
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.
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.
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.
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.