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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy is the continuation of the story of Lucky Prescott that was introduced in the series Spirit Riding Free. This show sees Lucky and her friends leave home for boarding school, which brings new experiences that inspire and challenge them and scenarios with a slightly more mature vibe than those of the parent show. Some of the girls’ interactions with their classmates get heated, and social rivalries can cause hurt feelings and antagonism. Even so, Lucky usually emerges as the cool-headed one in the group, and she’s quick to admit when she’s wrong and to take responsibility. This series features a diverse group of characters, self-confident female role models, and some pleasant representations of coping with challenges of growing up.
What's the story?
In SPIRIT RIDING FREE: RIDING ACADEMY, new experiences lay in wait for Lucky (voiced by Amber Frank) and her best friends, Abigail (Bailey Gambertoglio) and Pru (Sydney Park) -- along with their equine pals -- as they leave their home in Miradero for the prestigious boarding school Palomino Bluffs. There they make new friends, encounter new rivals, and have adventures that teach them about growing up, becoming independent, and finding their individual destinies.
Is it any good?
The Spirit saga continues to unfold in this exciting new setting, and it’s refreshing to see these characters age and change in a somewhat true-to-life fashion rather than remain stagnant. Lucky, Pru, and Abigail face the uncertainties of a move away from home with some nerves and a lot of excitement. Through the ups and downs, they’re emboldened by the knowledge that their friendship gives them stable footing for whatever comes next. As always, they are each other’s biggest supporters, even as new acquaintances enter their lives.
As Spirit Riding Free gives way to the Riding Academy series, this major life change brings opportunities for Lucky and her friends to mature beyond their plucky younger selves. Their dealings with social rivals and other new pressures illustrate healthy self-awareness and emotional maturity for older tween viewers especially. Unlike its parent series, Riding Academy doesn’t touch on themes of the historical time, but the characters’ dealings with social rivals and other new pressures illustrate healthy self-awareness and emotional maturity for tween viewers especially. Families who watch together can expand on these themes as they relate to their own kids’ experiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role the Miradero community plays in the girls' resiliency in their move to a boarding school. How do they balance missing home with being excited about their new adventures? In what ways do they maintain ties to their family and friends at home?
Do the characters' experiences necessarily reflect the realities of the time? What does history teach us about gender roles and race relations in the western frontier? Would Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy be better served by incorporating more historical context?
How do social pressures affect Lucky and her friends? In what ways is their friendship challenged by being around new classmates? How do they deal with the meanness and bullying of some of their peers? In what ways would you handle a similar situation?
- Premiere date: April 3, 2020
- Cast: Amber Frank, Bailey Gambertoglio, Sydney Park
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Horses and Farm Animals
- Character strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Available on: Streaming
- Last updated: July 9, 2020
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