A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Stillwater teaches Michael, Addy, and Karl useful techniques for coping with difficult emotions and managing challenging experiences in their lives. As viewers watch the stories, they can relate these lessons to their own life experiences.
Viewers see that healthy emotional expression helps people cope with difficult scenarios and maintain positive relationships. A trusted grown-up is a valuable resource and a good friend.
Positive Role Models
Stillwater is the epitome of a gentle, validating role model. He listens respectfully, teaches kindly, and sets a great example for his young friends, who know they can trust him completely. For their part, the kids show a willingness to learn and to apply what he teaches them.
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.
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.
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.