Molly of Denali

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Molly of Denali TV Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Alaska Native character's adventures celebrate heritage.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 14 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Educates by exposure rather than direct instruction, letting viewers see and hear bits of traditional language, music, dance, transportation, and everyday skills of Native Alaskans of the past. Molly and other characters use words and phrases of indigenous languages, always followed by translations to English. Stories sometimes reference difficult historical experiences of Natives. Live-action segments in each episode show kids learning about Native heritage and customs from tribal elders.

 

Positive Messages

Kids see that Molly is an active member of her community and an independent, resourceful explorer. She and her friends enjoy learning new skills, acquiring knowledge about how Native Alaskans lived and worked in the past. Stories emphasize respect for cultural diversity, for people who help keep traditions alive for younger generations. Some reflective moments raise sad or upsetting truths about the Native experiences of the past, and series presents them honestly but in a kid-friendly way. Strong themes of perseverance, tolerance, compassion. Many characters in Molly's world challenge gender roles in their occupations, and there's multiculturalism among her and her friends as well.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Molly is a go-getter who's never defeated by a challenge of any magnitude. When she needs to know something, she turns to many different sources of information (books, the internet, maps, trusted adults), and she doesn't quit until she's satisfied her curiosity. Her friends are loyal, always happy to join in her adventures. All the adults Molly interacts with demonstrate patience, genuine interest in her needs, going out of their way to help and nurture her interests. In particular, her grandfather bridges Molly's modern life experience with culture of her Native heritage.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Molly of Denali is an animated series that centers on an Alaska Native girl (voiced by Sovereign Bill) who learns about the indigenous experience through travels around the state and encounters with its people. The show's authenticity is the result of a creative team that includes indigenous advisors, voice actors, and production personnel, all of whom contribute to the show's thoughtful representation of Alaska's cultural diversity. Molly is an excellent role model for kids, an enthusiastic explorer and gatherer of knowledge who greatly respects the adults who share wisdom with her. Some matters of Native people's histories may need further explanation (as when an elderly woman tells Molly about having been forced to go to boarding school and forbidden from celebrating her heritage), but the show gives kids wonderful exposure to indigenous people and their experiences.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHolly R. July 17, 2019

These people are way too harsh... This show is WONDERFUL!!!

First off, this show is NOT a Wild Kratts rip-off. This show only focus's on Alaska and Native Alaskan culture and wildlife. To the parent who said the dru... Continue reading
Adult Written byEmc.sqrd July 17, 2019

WE LOVE THIS NEW SHOW!! Kudos, PBS!

As a Montessori teacher and mom, my daughter (7) and I have been anxiously awaiting this show and it totally delivers! We have had many discussions lately abou... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bypawpatrolfanatic September 9, 2019

i love this show

this show is awesome!
Teen, 14 years old Written byThumbsUpKid711 July 18, 2019

You haven’t seen the extent of it yet.

This show is truly a joy to watch. With inclusion of the unique Native American and African American ethnicities, the show shines in all places of diversity.... Continue reading

What's the story?

In MOLLY OF DENALI, 10-year-old Molly Mabray (voiced by Sovereign Bill) lets her curiosity guide her adventures in and around the small Alaskan town she calls home. As a modern girl with Alaska Native heritage, Molly often finds connections between her interests and the experiences of her ancestors, and along with her best friends, Tooey (Sequoia Janvier) and Trini (Vienna Leacock), she enjoys learning more about the culture of the Athabascans and other indigenous people of neighboring Alaskan regions. With the help of her parents (Ron Harris and Jules Koostachin), who run a local trading post, and the guidance of Grandpa Nat (Lorne Cardinal), Molly sets out to experience everything she can in present-day Alaska and to learn about her predecessors' way of life.

Is it any good?

As the very first kids TV series to cast an Alaska Native lead character, this thoughtful, pleasant show is a welcome anomaly in the genre. Molly is a delightful pick to introduce to young viewers the diversity and culturally rich history of America's 49th state. A "typical" modern tween, she blogs and uses the internet as a research tool, but she's also deeply connected to and respectful of the experiences of her indigenous ancestors through her grandfather and other adults in her community. As she learns about her cultural heritage as it relates to her own interests, Molly teaches kids about Alaska now and in the past, paying special homage to its native people.

Molly of Denali takes great care to ensure its content isn't trite or narrowly focused, and the result is an exceptionally endearing series with quality content throughout. Because Molly's explorations -- and her parents' work as trading post proprietors and local pilot – take her away from her town often, she gets to learn about other indigenous people and heritages directly from them. The show's content is created in partnership with Alaskan Native advisors, lending significant authenticity to the engaging and meaningful stories and Molly's experiences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what inspires Molly's adventures. What similarities exist between her modern experiences and the way her ancestors lived? Who helps her learn about her cultural heritage? What ties does your family keep to your ancestry?

  • Which adult role models cultivate Molly's interest in her home and its people? What adults in your life go out of their way to help and nurture you? How can you act as a role model for others in a similar way?

  • Kids: How do shows like Molly of Denali help encourage tolerance for diversity? Why is it important to understand and respect other people's experiences? How does diversity strengthen our communities?

TV details

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