A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Positive messages are frequently muddied by the less-than-positive ones, but there's often a lesson in each show: "don't give up," "trust your inner voice," and so on.
Positive Role Models
Many characters are built along stereotypical lines, i.e. Kaylie's rich and spoiled: in court, when the judge calls for "Order," Kaylie makes an order for sparkling water with cucumber. For her part, Valeria is painted as goth (she's constantly cursing others), Chewy as an unrepetant romantic/horndog who never tires of asking Amber on dates, etc. Ray Ray is more of an interesting character, with an atypical gender presentation ("I want to die young and pretty"), as is tough yet sensitive Amber, the non-Kaylie leader of the group. Class issues play a part in this sitcom too, with a rich rival school calling the Porcupines things like "The Porcupukes -- emphasis on the poor." However, there are also regressive messages about age: "Baby Spice pushing 50? That's just sad."
Violence & Scariness
Violence sometimes plays a part in dramatic stakes but is given an ironic tone. E.g in one scene, Kaylie and friends are crossing a narrow path on the side of a giant mountain and Ray Ray almost slips and falls; the gang gasps as a stone falls into the chasm, then Amber slips and falls, hanging on to a tree (but still delivering a quip). Valeria talks about cursing others with blisters or warts; at one point she refers to casting a "Santeria curse." Humor can be dark: Kaylie jokes that when she dies her mom wants her cremated so she can sell her ashes in necklaces.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kaylie talks about dating and flirts with a teen boy who seems about her age. One character, Chewy, makes frequent romantic overtures to Amber, who rebuffs them: "Perfect would be you and me in the cafeteria Lady and the Tramp-ing a strand of spaghetti," he says in one typical advance. A fortysomething character says she "scopes Tinder" every night; a teen character says she'd be a "7" on (faux dating site for seniors) Silver Singles.
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No cursing, but language occasionally veers into the semi-vulgar: "Screw the rules," says Amber. Characters also frequently insult each other. "Don't die, I got us a Groupon for a couple's massage," says Chewy to Amber, who responds "I'd rather plummet to my death." Mean rivals the Lumberjacks call the Porcupines things like "porcupukes" or "porcupoops."
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Products & Purchases
Kaylie dresses in an expensive Instagram influencer style, and we hear a lot about the luxury consumer brands she favors: Mercedes, Dolce & Gabbana, Manola Blahnik.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
No one drinks, smokes, or uses drugs on-screen, but at one point the school principal says she "feels" for two characters, at least, "as much as my pain medication will let me."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Team Kaylie is a sitcom about a social media influencer (Bryana Salaz) who starts leading school wilderness group the Porcupines after she's assigned to do community service. With its wish-fulfillment plot about tweens who get to know an online celebrity, the setup will appeal to young viewers, but this series does have some iffy content. Characters are often rude to each other, particularly a group of wealthy kids from a rival school who call the Porcupines things like "Porcupoops." One character has a crush on a schoolmate and frequently makes romantic advances, which are rebuffed. Characters are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, body type, class, and gender presentation, and each episode has a lesson like "don't give up" (even if the lessons are sometimes muddied). Kaylie herself is painted as super-rich; we hear a lot about the luxury brands she likes. And some jokes are surprisingly mature: Kaylie says that when she dies, her mom plans to sell her cremains in necklaces, and a principal says she sympathizes with students "as much as my pain medication will let me." Scary scenes like one in which a character slips and almost falls down a mountain are played for laughs and have a light tone.
Is It Any Good?
Decent writing and appealing actors breathe a bit of life into this artificial and cliched sitcom, which feels much like a throwback to Disney Channel series from the early 2000s. Characters are glossy, mannered, and throw rehearsed quips at each other in lieu of actually relating -- nothing here can be mistaken for authentic. And yet, young viewers who are in search of a feather-light entertainment experience with a modern wish-fulfillment angle may be captivated anyway.
Social media influencers are the movie stars of Generation Z, there's no doubt about it, and many a tween has hatched a few fantasies about spending time with their favorite Instagrammer or YouTuber. And with her super-chic outfits and glossy hair (as well as the sweetness that frequently pokes through her media-savvy personality) Bryana Salaz makes an attractive faux celebrity. The Team Kaylie cast is also a bit cooler than the ones found on early-naughties Disney Channel: diverse not just in race, gender, and ethnicity, but also in terms of class, body type, and gender presentation. Team Kaylie can't be mistaken for great art. But in terms of guilty-pleasure tween TV, it's at least a step in the right direction.
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.
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