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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ruby Gloom is a charming animated series that many have likened to Strawberry Shortcake gone goth. Ruby Gloom has the same sort of can-do hey-kids-let's-put-on-a-show energy, with a group of close-knot friends who can accomplish anything if they just stick together. The setting of Ruby Gloom is a crumbling gothic mansion with ghosts and monsters, dark shadows and looming trees; this may intimidate the youngest of viewers. But kids even a year or two older will appreciate the sweetness of Ruby and her pals. Unlike many animated female characters, Ruby also appears childlike (instead of like a sexualized mini-adult), and wears age-appropriate clothing. Parents may not like, however, that Ruby and her friends appear to live alone, with no adults in sight.
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What's the story?
Ruby Gloom had un-promising beginning as an apparel line popular in mall-punk stores like Hot Topic. But thanks to lovely animation and thoughtful, intelligent scripting, the animated series is one of the most charming out there, starring \"the happiest girl in the world,\" the titular Ruby Gloom (Sarah Gadon), a 10-year-old who lives in a curlicued gothic mansion with her cat, Doom Kitty. Ruby has a pack of unusual friends, such as Skull Boy (Scott McCord), a living skeleton, cyclops Iris (Stacey DePass), accident-prone Misery (Emily Hampshire), and other assorted oddballs. They get into scrapes and have gentle adventures, always solving problems together and helping their friends.
Is it any good?
A nice mix of sweet-and-sour, Ruby Gloom's dark gothic setting underscores all the cooperation and kindness. Adults will enjoy jokes that kids may miss, such as when it's revealed that Ruby eats Glum Flakes cereal for breakfast. And all but the most sensitive kids will be too enraptured by fantastic elements like talking pictures and a school for ghosts to be unnerved by dark elements like Misery's constant talk of disasters and death.
Adults who catch an episode here and there won't be surprised to learn that Ruby Gloom was produced in Canada: there's a gentle, slow vibe at work here that's different from many American animated series. Many of the main writers are female as well, and the friendships between the show's female characters Misery, Ruby, and Iris are particularly well-written and realistic, with characters occasionally griping at each other but always coming through in a pinch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Ruby's house and friends are meant to be funny, scary, or both at the same time. What is scary about characters like Skull Boy and Misery? What makes the scariness funny at the same time?
The main character of Ruby Gloom is Ruby herself, a girl. Can you think of other animated series with a girl as the main character? How is Ruby Gloom like or different from these series?
Ruby Gloom has a lot of situations that can't happen in real life, such as when ghost-boy Boo Boo has to learn how to scare people or he can't pass through walls. Why do cartoons so frequently illustrate fantasy scenarios like this? How does animation lend itself to fantastic plots?
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