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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The premise of the show is based on helping Sadie, a freshman in high school, find her confidence and grow into her best self. While there are traditional sitcom tropes and flawed characters present -- leading to unrealistic situations -- this is necessary to create conflict. The positive outweighs the negative, especially within the larger media landscape of shows for children of this age.
Positive Role Models
Lay Lay's message to Sadie from the beginning is to always stand up for herself and not let someone else stand in the way of what she wants. Though both Sadie and Lay Lay struggle with difficulties (Sadie doesn't speak up enough, Lay Lay sometimes gets in trouble for things she says), the two have a lot to gain from knowing each other. The title may make viewers think the show's all about Lay Lay, the real star is Sadie and Lay Lay's friendship.
Most of the cast is Black, and the show avoids stereotypes based on race. The stereotypes here are typical to sitcoms (e.g., the nerdy, neurotic protagonist, the scheming younger sibling, etc.).
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Violence & Scariness
Characters are sometimes mean to one another, including adults in power being unnecessarily mean to kids for comedic purposes. Most of the time, though, the show does a very good job of "punching up," or making the people in power (teachers, the principal, the White "popular girl" character) the targets of jokes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sadie's parents show physical affection in small ways (a hug, a hand on a chest, a short kiss hello/goodbye).
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There are a few minor instances of verbal meanness. For example, when Lay Lay enters Sadie into the race for class president, she tries to calm Sadie's nerves by insulting the other candidate: "I’m not letting you lose to a girl who wears press-ons." The classmate Lay Lay is referring to is generally mean and makes it evident that she looks down on Lay Lay and Sadie, so both parties are at fault.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that That Girl Lay Lay is a live-action, multi-camera sitcome focused on Sadie, a freshman at East Packer High. She is smart, passionate, and has a lot to say about the things she cares about. The only problem is that she doesn't quite know how to speak up. When Lay Lay, an avatar on her phone's "positive affirmation" app comes to life, she begins to teach Sadie how to take risks and say what's on her mind. The show is a rather standard sitcom with pratfalls, a laugh track, and verbal insults, but overall, the positive messages outweigh the negative ones.
Is It Any Good?
Technically, the show is sound: it has an engaging premise, a diverse cast, traditional sitcom conventions, and a bright and colorful set. Visually and structurally, That Girl Lay Lay feels like live-action a Nickelodeon show from any era. It also contains positive messages and its leads are Black. It's a bit heavy on the laugh track and there is quite a bit of cartoonish slapstick humor, but that's to be expected for the genre. As an example, one of the greatest offenses comes from the end of the pilot episode, where instead of a presidential debate, the two candidates perform dances as if this were a talent show instead of student government. It's not long before the whole school joins in and the principal announces that Sadie has won the election by applause instead of from a formal vote. Younger kids will like this show, with its predictable unreality, but their parents or older siblings unlikely to enjoy watching with them for longer than a few minutes.
One place That Girl Lay Lay really shines is in taking aim at those in power as the targets of jokes. For instance, the trope of a character who is incredibly oblivious or naive doesn't go to one of the kid characters, but rather to the school principal. She's technologically behind, using a flip phone to keep tabs on school happenings. She also often fails to notice what kids right behind her are up to, while she utters her catchphrase "nothing gets past me." This allows the students, particularly Sadie and Lay Lay, to never be looked down upon or bullied. It's their world, and the teachers and school principal just happen to live there, too.
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.