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 Motorcity is too dark and intense for young kids, but for tweens, it's a rare find: an action-adventure cartoon that illustrates underlying social messages promoting awareness and activism. The heroes are teens drawn together by their mutual determination to overthrow the controlling, self-appointed city leader who's taken away the residents' freedom, so it's a great jumping-off point for talking about everything from politics to current events and issues. Because this series is intended for a slightly older audience, name-calling ("stupid," "scum," "dimwit") and violence (teens in peril, laser blasts that take down buildings, etc.) are routine -- but so are examples of positive problem-solving and critical thinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
MOTORCITY is set in the distant future in what used to be Detroit but is now the personal possession of billionaire Abraham Kane (voiced by Mark Hamill). "Detroit Deluxe," as it's now known, is an orderly, high-tech metropolis that runs like a well-oiled machine, thanks to Kane's tyrannical oversight and his elimination of most of the citizens' personal freedoms. But one small group of rebels led by fearless Mike Chilton (Reid Scott) and his buddy Chuck (Nate Torrence) bands together in a subterranean bunker that used to house parts of the original city to plot an uprising and take back their home -- and their freedom -- from Kane's iron grasp.
Is it any good?
This action-packed cartoon is a rarity among its peers -- a political science lesson masquerading as entertainment, a commentary on government and social activism that's not a documentary or a satire. In a tween market that's overflowing with superheroes and the supernatural, Motorcity is something of an anomaly, and that's just the hook it might need to reel in this sought-after set of viewers. Once there, tweens will find a diverse and mostly appealing team of heroes drawn together by their common disdain for an autocratic establishment and their unwillingness to accept a system they don't believe in.
If all that sounds a little heady for tweens, you're not wrong. Granted, it's possible to watch Motorcity on a more superficial level, not looking beyond the high-octane car chases to analyze the power struggle that instigates them. But to do so is to miss out on Motorcity's most positive messages about social responsibility, self-expression, and personal empowerment. What's more, without relating these themes to the content, the show feels more like a one-dimensional fantasy ride than a story with any value. Bottom line? Content-wise, this show is passable for younger tweens, but it's much better suited for older ones who -- with parents' help -- can start to relate its themes to real-world issues.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Motorcity's messages. Do you think it intends to encourage critical thinking about government structures or social issues? How does it relate to current events?
Tweens: Do you think this is a realistic concept? Does entertainment always need to have a dose of reality to be worthwhile? What does this story have to say about heroism and the definition of a hero?
How does a show's style affect how it's received by viewers? Would this story be better served by a live-action format? How might that change its intended audience and the nature of its violence?
Themes & Topics
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