What parents need to know
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.
What's the story?
When Guy Hamdon (voiced by Sam Vincent) discovers a power ring in his aunt's house and slips it on his finger, he's instantly transformed into a superhero. His new powers have Guy jumping for joy ... until he realizes that he's actually a female superhero called SheZow and now has to get used to life in high heels and a skirt. Lucky for him, he can lean on his sister, Kelly (Diana Kaarina), who's up to speed on all things SheZow; his ever-loyal best friend, Maz (Matt Hill); and She-la, the omniscient computer in their new superhero lair. Can this "guy Guy" muster enough girl power to pass as the town's new hero and tackle the villains who challenge him?
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.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about SheZow's message about gender roles. What does Guy learn about being a girl when he becomes SheZow? Does it change how he acts as a boy? How different is his style as SheZow than it would be if he was a male hero?
Kids: Why do you think the show's writers put this spin on Guy's personality? Does it teach us anything about the opposite gender? Does it make the show funnier than it would be if his gender was consistent? Is it guilty of stereotyping any aspects of femininity or masculinity?
How does what we see on TV influence how we think and act? Do you think that's the goal of those who create the shows we watch?