RAD Lands

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
RAD Lands TV Poster Image
Kids grow, cook, and learn about sustainable, healthy foods.

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Educational Value

The show teaches kids about various farming methods, food preparation techniques and nutrition, about the environment and sustainability, and concepts like photosynthesis.

Positive Messages

Kids are encouraged to be creative, to try new things, and to take care of the planet.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The kids featured on the live action segments of the show have good attitudes, and the grownups who help teach cooking are great. The animated segments about "The Cultivators" -- a band of outer space freedom fighters trying to save the universe from processed food -- can be a little iffy. The team's mission is admirable, but one of the characters says things that are just plain mean a lot of the time. She tells a team member she'll "gladly" watch him break all his bones in a fall, tells him "We're not gonna come rescue you!", that kind of thing.

Sexy Stuff

Not to worry, this isn't one long infomercial for Chipotle. The restaurant is never mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that RAD Lands is an iTunes-exclusive limited series from popular burrito chain Chipotle (yes, really!), and produced by Scott Schultz of Yo Gabba Gabba! fame. Despite the show's corporate roots, this isn't a commercial for the restaurant at all -- it isn't mentioned or pictured in any of the episodes. There are a lot of positive messages about sustainability and environmental awareness, but there are also regular animated fight scenes featuring laser guns, swords, and scythe-like weapons. The show examines where our food comes from, and that doesn't only include plant matter -- there are references to eating animals, and one animated sequence depicts an imaginary species of space creature trapped in what is supposed to mimic a factory farm, where animals are overcrowded and mistreated. Nothing graphic is shown, but parents may want to be prepared to answer follow-up questions about these kinds of practices.

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What's the story?

The RAD in RAD Lands stands for Respect, Appreciate, Defend -- specifically, in regards to the plants and animals that make up our food supply. Colorfully-wigged hostess Tricket and her talking boombox companion Lo-Fi are our spaceship-bound guides, and help set up the show's various segments that jump between live action, animation, cooking demonstrations and musical numbers. Kids who live on farms are filmed working in the fields and explaining how plants grow, and what it means for a food to be "local". We see firsthand how the cheese that goes into a grilled cheese sandwich makes it's way from the farm to the grocery store to the fridge at home. In the "Now You're Cookin'" segments, celebrity chefs like Amanda Freitag (Chopped) and Duff Goldman (Ace of Cakes) help kids get their aprons dirty learning to cook fun basics like customized omelets and sandwich cookies. Kids compete against one another in a timed contest to make the tastiest snack from the materials they're given, and to do so before the evil "Pepperjack" sabotages their creations with an unwanted dose of spicy pepper from his mill. There are animated bits, including playful explanations of concepts like ecosystems, being an carnivore versus an herbivore, and more. Musical guests also appear, including Neon Trees and Biz Markie.

Is it any good?

The elevator pitch for this show could be "It's a mashup between Captain Planet and Yo Gabba Gabba! with a twist of Master Chef Junior" -- and that's not far off. Educational without being dry, the show's at its strongest when it shows real kids interacting in and with nature, explaining what they like about growing and eating foods. Seeing them get excited about learning new cooking techniques is also entertaining, and the "Snack Challenge" segment helps them show off their creativity. Some of the standalone animated bits are great, like the story of photosynthesis re-imagined as a Greek myth.

The weakest part (which is unfortunately ongoing) is the "Cultivators" cartoon, about a band of friends who fight to save the galaxy's plants and animals from an evil corporation desperate to market their highly processed "NuFood". The animation in these segments is stiff, the characters one-note, and the storylines corny. Still, the overall tone of the show is upbeat and engaging, and kids will learn a lot. It may even inspire them to start a windowsill herb garden of their own, or at least try a new fruit or vegetable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their favorite foods, and what goes into making them. How many steps did it take for that strawberry to get from a farm to your breakfast plate? What are some of the benefits to growing your own food?

  • Kids and their parents can create their own at-home "snack challenge", inspired by the show. What healthy ingredients could you choose to combine into a tasty treat?

  • Why is there such an emphasis on organic foods nowadays? What does it mean to grow something "organically?"

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love staying healthy

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

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