By Polly Conway,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fun Africa-set STEM superhero series has great role models.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Subtle science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) lessons and lots of technological concepts from VR to GPS are shown. Lots of opportunities for parents or teachers to go deeper into these subjects. Germ theory and how a virus works are addressed when nearly everyone in Dunia gets "spotti masotti," a chicken pox-like virus, and are advised to wash their hands and stay indoors.
Sema and her friends exemplify teamwork and courage as they work to solve problems using STEAM, as well as in fighting the local villain who's greedy, jealous, and unkind (but we also learn he has no heart and wishes to be human).
Positive Role Models
Sema is a great role model who loves solving problems and is beloved by her community. She gets along well with her brother MB and is kind and helpful to anyone in need. The community she lives in is tight-knit and supportive of each other.
Created by Nairobi-based media company Kukua alongside executive producer Lupita Nyong'o -- also Kenyan -- the show takes place in a futuristic African village, and all characters are Black. Swahili is occasionally spoken. While the show is incomparable for positive and nonstereotypical Black representation, it does tap into the "disabled villain" cliché: Power-hungry Tobor is "artificially intelligent," has a bionic body and left eye, has no heart, and longs to be human. (No other recurring characters use bionics.) Kids are uniformly thin, Sema even thinner than the rest; more body shape diversity is seen among adult characters.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Some characters find themselves in peril (usually Moya, the goat), but everything always turns out fine. A meteor hits the ground in a way that might be scary for younger viewers.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Super Sema is an animated series about a kid superhero. Produced by Lupita Nyong'o (who also voices a character), the series is set in the fictional African town of Dunia, where humans live together along with artificial intelligence beings like robot villain Tobor and his army of Bongalalas, a Minion-like army of tiny bots. His self-serving schemes always get the attention of Sema and her brother MB, who use STEAM skills -- science, technology, engineering, arts, and math -- and creative problem-solving to save the day. Even though the series deals with big issues like deforestation, lack of electricity, and contagious viruses, the tone is light and age-appropriate, and Sema always saves the day in time. Parents should note that the show doesn't always show real-life science lessons -- trees grow overnight, meteors glow, etc. -- but they're always based in reality. For example, in one episode, Sema and MB convert the heat from rotting trash into a power source; in another, they create a GPS system (but in this scenario, "G" stands for "goat"). But creative problem-solving is always stressed, and kids will love to see Sema's solutions in action, while parents can support with more in-depth STEAM exploration.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
Sema (voiced by Stycie Waweru) is a young girl who lives in the African village of Dunia with her brother MB and grandfather Baba. She's just a regular kid, but she also serves as a local superhero thanks to her ingenuity and STEAM skills, which she works on in her very own fully equipped science lab. It's a good thing Dunia has a superhero, because it also has a supervillain, Tobor, a humanoid robot who's set on wreaking havoc on the community along with his underlings, cute robot creatures known as Bongalalas. Each episode gives Sema the opportunity to "techno-vate," or use technology to solve problems. She and MB always come up with the perfect solution in her lab, whether it's harnessing the powers of a meteorite chunk, creating a tree-planting drone, or programming a 3D printer to make pizzas.
Is It Any Good?
The show's tone is light and buoyant, and Sema's cheerful spirit and can-do attitude are infectious. As the theme song states, Sema is a "maker, creator, and techno-vator," and while her STEAM-based solutions aren't always totally realistic (trees can't really grow overnight), her quick mind and ingenuity are just as important for kids to witness. Equally important is the futuristic African setting and the colorful community of Dunia itself, beautifully rendered here by Nairobi-based media company Kukua, along with executive producer Lupita Nyong'o, who's also Kenyan. Cultural traditions and activities like dance and football are seamlessly sewn into Sema's adventures, and Dunia shares more than a passing similarity to Black Panther's Wakanda. For such a brief show, Super Sema brings a part of the world that's not always shown in a positive light to joyful life.
The five-minute episodes move pretty fast plot-wise but usually don't feel rushed. That said, it would be fun to get a little more fleshed-out Sema time and to learn about some of the supporting characters, like her grandfather, Baba, who's raising Sema and MB himself. Tobor's goal of AI triumphing over humanity is also a little complex in a world that otherwise supports technology, and his character (who's missing a heart) does recall the "disabled villain" stereotype of someone who will destroy others in order to be "made whole." But families who love STEAM and adventure will love spending time with Super Sema.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the community of Dunia. How is Sema's village similiar to your own town or city? What is different? Have you seen Africa portrayed in other shows or movies?
What makes Sema "super"? What makes you super? Do you think everyone has a superpower of their own? Can kindness be a superpower? What about courage or empathy?
Sema is always creating things in her lab, like a VR game, an upcycled van, and a 3D printed pizza. Which ones sound the most fun to you? What do you have in your own home that you could use to create a science experiment or art project?
Do you think one person has the power to change the world? Can you name any real kids that have had a big effect on the world? If you can't, that's OK! Learn about brave kid heroes Malala, Greta Thunberg, Marley Dias, and many more who raised their voices about issues that they felt strongly about and were heard around the world. If you had the chance to share your voice with the world, what would you say?
How do Sema and MB work together to defeat Tobor and save the day? Why do you think teamwork is an important character strength? Have you ever had to do something along with a sibling, like clean the house or weed a garden? How do you make sure you get along?
- Premiere date: March 8, 2021
- Cast: Lupita Nyong'o, Claudia Lloyd
- Network: YouTube
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: STEM, Great Girl Role Models, Robots
- Character Strengths: Courage, Curiosity, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: July 2, 2022
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.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
STEM: Apps, TV, and More for Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math
TV Shows with Black Leads
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate