A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action! is a 2001 animated adventure about teen undercover agents based on the likenesses of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who provide the characters' voices. The show does an excellent job presenting strong female role models in the two heroines, who are independent, intelligent, and self-confident, and dialogue often includes words of wisdom such as "Hard work is its own reward" and "Beauty is on the inside." Negative qualities such as power lust and greed are evident in villains to mark them as the bad guys, but they're not an intimidating bunch. Happily this show also incorporates some learning potential in its far-flung geographical settings and in how the gumshoes use basic math and science knowledge to make sense of some of the clues.
What's the story?
When trouble pops up, no heroes are better suited to the job than twin sisters Mary-Kate (voiced by Mary-Kate Olsen) and Ashley (Ashley Olsen), who operate under the pseudonyms of Agent Misty and Agent Amber, respectively. They jump into action, crisscrossing the globe to track down clues and unmask the villain before more harm can be done. With support from computer whiz Ivan, robotic genius dog Quincy (Brendan Beiser), and all-around good guy Rod, Mary-Kate and Ashley match wits with the likes of Renee La Rouge (Lenore Zann), Oliver Dickens (Christopher Gray), and Clive Hedgemorton-Smythe (Michael Dobson).
Is it any good?
MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY IN ACTION! is an appealing cartoon whose solid content belies the show's short-lived production foray. The animated likenesses of TV darlings Mary-Kate and Ashley are everything you'd want in peer role models for your own daughters; they're capable, they're self-assured, and they acknowledge the value of teamwork. What's more, they respect qualities such as intelligence and courage over more superficial ones, often making references to the silliness of vanity and the importance of following through on the jobs they do.
But the goodness doesn't stop there. These heroines are globe-trotters, flying (themselves, by the way) from continent to continent to foil the schemes of villains who are only out for their own gain. As they do, they introduce their viewers to geographical and cultural differences among the places they stop, from the Eiffel Tower to the Costa Rican rain forest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Mary-Kate and Ashley's characters good role models. Which qualities do you most admire in them? How do they handle difficult challenges? In general, do you like shows with strong-willed, self-reliant girls at the helm?
Do these characters seem to have a realistic sibling relationship? What factors make it difficult to work with a brother or sister on a task? What do you and your siblings like to do together?
Talk with your kids about what they learned about the story's setting. Locate the place on a globe or a map. What other countries or landmarks is it near? What can you guess about its climate and culture from the show?
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