A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stillwater is an animated show that promotes excellent messages about emotional awareness and control through the interactions between three kids and their kindly panda bear neighbor named Stillwater. The characters’ experiences with emotions like disappointment and sadness will resonate with young viewers, and Stillwater uses kid-friendly stories that are delightfully illustrated onscreen to help them cope with life’s challenges. Some aspects of Stillwater’s lifestyle reflect elements of Chinese culture, from the architectural style of his house to the gardens and koi pond on his property. This series is gorgeously animated and put to calming music that sets the tone for the stories’ gentle messages about healthy emotional management.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
STILLWATER is a show about the special relationship between three siblings and their kindly panda bear neighbor to whom they bring their lives’ woes. Michael (voiced by Tucker Chandler), Addy (Eva Ariel Binder), and Karl (Judah Mackey) are just like most other kids their ages, with big questions about the world and big feelings about navigating it. In each episode, one of the kids experiences something that inspires an emotional response, and Stillwater (James Sie) uses parables to calmly guide his young friend to a better understanding of how to cope with it.
Is it any good?
This gentle, soothing series is the literary equivalent of a warm hug. The combination of gorgeous animation and music sets the stage for Stillwater’s intentional pace and intuitive content that teaches wonderful lessons without hitting you over the head with them. Everything about Stillwater communicates a welcome calm, from his bamboo-fenced gardens to the lolling speed at which he accomplishes his daily chores. He’s a model of self-awareness and introspection for his three young friends and, by extension, for his viewers. As Stillwater helps the kids face unfamiliar emotions like anger, frustration, and disappointment, he demonstrates the value of healthy social-emotional awareness and conflict resolution. And he accomplishes all of this without ever raising his voice or appearing flustered.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in the delights of this series that it's almost easy to forget about the aspects of the show that are, well, unusual. Besides the obvious suburbia-dwelling-talking-panda-bear thing, there’s the notable but totally inexplicable absence of any parental figures in the kids’ lives. Where in real life a parent or guardian would step in to help guide the kids’ social learning, the apparently ever-accessible and unfailingly patient neighbor bear fills that role for Michael, Addy, and Karl. It’s odd, to be sure, but keeping the cast to a minimum does bolster the show’s overall simple and serene style.
Talk to your kids about ...
Kids: In what ways is Stillwater is an excellent role model for Michael, Addy, and Karl? Who are some important role models in your life? What specific behavior do you admire in them? How does having an example to follow help you stay true to the person you want to be?
What aspects of other cultures do you notice in this series? Do they serve a specific purpose in the stories? Do they teach you anything? Is it important to learn something from the TV shows and movies you watch?
- Premiere date: December 4, 2020
- Cast: James Sie, Tucker Chandler, Eva Ariel Binder, Judah Mackey
- Network: Apple TV+
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Character strengths: Self-control
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 8, 2021
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