Short Circuit

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
Short Circuit TV Poster Image
Delightful animated shorts from emerging Disney talent.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Shorts are pure entertainment, but behind-the-scenes introductions to each short teaches a little about the animation process.

Positive Messages

The animations are so short most of them don't have a "moral of the story." But many of the stories are uplifting.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Shorts feature diverse lead characters, and many (though not all) lead characters display strong socio-emotional skills and integrity. Most of the Disney creators featured are White.

Violence & Scariness

Varies from short to short -- some are suitable for any audience. One short has a comedic Grim Reaper character, but he doesn't cause any obvious deaths. Another features a little girl performing martial arts, though it's very stylized and no one is hurt. Several of the shorts are reflecting on the sadness of people dying; sad characters are shown and death is implied but not shown. One shows mild animal cruelty (a baby elephant has to work picking bananas, nothing graphic).

Sexy Stuff

Varies from short to short -- some contain nothing but one contains a brief kiss and one short's plot centers around a boy and a girl having a crush on each other.

Language
Consumerism

Disney is one of the world's largest and most prolific companies. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Short Circuit is a series that showcases short films produced by emerging Disney talent. The content varies from short to short -- some are appropriate for very young audiences, while others are slightly edgier due to mild violence, flirtation, and references to death. It may be helpful to review the synopsis of each individual short for sensitive themes/content. The sad parts and mild violence are similar in intensity to scenes in Disney/Pixar movies (like the sad montage in the beginning of Up or non-explicit fight scenes in Mulan). It's inspiring to learn about animators and what goes into the creative process and collaboration of producing a short film.

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What's the story?

Each episode in SHORT CIRCUIT is made up of one two-minute animated short, plus a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary that shows the inspiration behind the film. The theme, topic, and animation style vary considerably for each short. Some are lighthearted, like "Puddles," where a little boy discovers a magical world by falling through puddles, or "Downtown," about the drab streets of a city that are transformed into vibrant street art. Some deal with heavier themes like "Flower in the Mirror," which is a metaphor for a woman's grief, or "Cycles," which rewinds through a family's life from the moment the grandmother is moved into an assisted living facility.

Is it any good?

These shorts have superb storytelling with characters that pull at your heartstrings, and gorgeous animation and scoring to match. The full title of this show is Short Circuit: Experimental Films, but these animated shorts are less experimental and more like many of Disney/Pixar's other shorts. These films will appeal to kids and adults alike. Several of them are similar to Up in which grown-up themes might fly right over kids' heads, but the grown-ups will end up sobbing. Animation nerds will appreciate the design and animation techniques (which are somewhat experimental in some shorts), and kids will like the engaging characters and stories.

A bonus element is that before each animation plays, there's a mini-documentary that features the creator of the film and behind-the-scenes footage. It's inspiring to see people in animation careers and to learn more about the creative process. The footage shows a relative lack of gender and racial diversity in Disney Animation Studios' employees, which is the only bummer about this otherwise excellent series.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the emotions each short evokes. What do you feel? Why do you think you feel this emotion? What are some of the techniques the artist used to make you feel a certain way?

  • The behind-the-scenes footage shows the creator of each short film. What would your behind-the-scenes story be about? What kind of ideas do you think could make an interesting cartoon?

  • The shorts featured in Short Circuit are created by employees at Disney and produced in collaboration with other coworkers. What does that say about teamwork, creativity, and courage?

TV details

  • Premiere date: January 24, 2020
  • Network: Disney+
  • Genre: Kids' Animation
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: February 4, 2021

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