A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
The series has drawn attention for the way it addresses gender roles by centering on a 12-year-old boy whose alter ego is a female superhero. While there's nothing demonstrative about Guy in either his male or female roles, the show spends a lot of time making light of his adjustment process. The show's comical tone takes the edge off the larger gender issues, but it's unclear what the motives are in the use of this type of hero, save for distinguishing it from other superhero stories.
Positive Role Models
As a superhero, Guy is average at best, and the fact that he's also adjusting to a different body proves to be an additional challenge. He likes the attention he gets as SheZow, but he strives to protect his true identity. Kelly and Maz are invaluable in his exchanges with villains and fans, and it's often Kelly's ability to think on her feet that tips the balance in their favor. The show addresses some gender roles broadly; Guy clearly enjoys some of his stereotypically "female" traits as SheZow, but he can also be macho and a bit sexist in his male role. (For example, in one scene, he tells his sister to do the "girly unpacking" herself when they move to a new house.)
Violence & Scariness
Cartoon violence is prevalent in SheZow's encounters with villains, but the fantasy nature of the fighting means that it's hardly disturbing. SheZow uses weapons like a boomerang and a light saber, which take down foes, but there's no blood. When characters do die, they usually do so in nontraditional ways like melting or vaporizing.
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No outright cursing, but the kids use exclamations that hint at the real deal, like "Shut the front door!" and "Holy ship of fools!"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that SheZow's protagonist is a 12-year-old boy whose alter ego is a female superhero, and a lot of the show is devoted to his attempts at adapting to life in a girl's body. While it doesn't specifically address the nitty-gritty of cross-gender roles (it's not specific about how extensive the changes are, for example), it will raise some questions for kids, especially when he/she talks about being uncomfortable in -- or, in some cases, learning to like -- his new persona. As a female superhero, SheZow wallows in some pretty flagrant gender stereotypes (packing beauty products that double as weapons and losing powers when her hair's in disarray, for instance). Interestingly, this characterization is a big contrast to that of the show's other girl character, Kelly, who's whip-smart and typically the unsung hero of each story. Cartoon violence involves weapons but is rooted in fantasy and shouldn't be an issue for the show's target age group. It's worth noting that debate over the show's appropriateness has inspired a lot of parody artwork online.
Is It Any Good?
What some might call groundbreaking character development in an animated kids' series, others could find laced in ulterior motives -- so it's not surprising that SHEZOW has garnered some criticsm to its take on gender bending. The real question isn't why Guy's alter ego is a girl (though that is a good one) but why the show's creators thought it was necessary to put that spin on his character in a show targeted at elementary school kids. Based on the sheer mundanity of the rest of the content, it's tempting to assume they knew it didn't stand a chance on its own in the saturated superhero market. A boy hero who fights comical foes in his hometown? Easily forgettable. But a cross-gender hero who's simultaneously learning to fight villains and walk in heels? Now that's going to pique some curiosity.
Ultimately SheZow's appeal (or non-appeal) depends on your personal values, so only you can decide whether the way it addresses gender roles will raise questions you want to talk about with your kids. But if this issue doesn't bother you, then know that the show has some funny moments, is short on realistic violence, and features a surprisingly strong relationship between siblings.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.