The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley TV Poster Image
Sister sleuths' far-flung cases are lots of fun for kids.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

It's not the primary focus of the stories, but usually there's some learning quality to the content. Maps show where the girls travel to investigate mysteries, and in many cases the clues they follow teach viewers about the stories' themes, which range from beekeeping to the space program.

Positive Messages

The show requires you to check your sense of reality at the door, as the pint-size gumshoes are on their own to travel the world and chase clues in a variety of mysteries, but it's all with decent results. Mary-Kate and Ashley are curious, self-reliant, and persistent, and even when the outcome is unclear, they forge ahead to see their task through to the end. Often they find that situations that seem scary at the start have logical explanations in the end.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The twins are resourceful and determined, and they don't even let their biggest fears keep them from completing their work. The show centers almost solely on them; adults play only supporting roles and usually are calling on them for help.

Violence & Scariness

No violence or anything truly scary, but the girls often let their imaginations suggest things are more frightening than they really are. In some cases, shadowy figures are shown, and the girls react by screaming and running away, but everything has a logical cause.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The show also inspired an accompanying book series.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley is a '90s musical mystery series starring the Olsen twins as globetrotting gumshoes. It had its TV premiere in 2001. The show is dated and plenty corny from a grown-up's standpoint, but it still has appeal for kids, and there's nothing to fear in the age-appropriate content. Each episode has a different setting, introducing kids to new places and often teaching them about the subject of the day's mystery, from UFOs to volcanoes. The girls make an appealing pair, leaning on each other when they need it and working together to gather and understand clues. Energetic music rounds out this enjoyable throwback series.

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What's the story?

No mystery can stump the dynamic duo of Mary-Kate (Mary-Kate Olsen) and Ashley (Ashley Olsen), twin sisters who spend their afternoons solving cases for clients all over the world in THE ADVENTURES OF MARY-KATE AND ASHLEY. From UFOs to inexplicable happenings at an island resort, these girls' caseload takes them from one corner of the globe to the next and drops them in any number of precarious situations, but they won't give up until every clue is uncovered and the mystery is solved in time for them to get home for dinner.

Is it any good?

Music and moxie are on full display in this charming series that's evidence of what made the Olsen twins such darlings of the small screen in their formative years. They're so comfortable in front of the camera and with each other that the show almost has a natural, unscripted quality to it . . . that is until a call comes in from overseas and they set out on their bicycles to investigate a haunted house in Transylvania or some such thing. Obviously the show requires a certain disregard for geographical distance, elapsed time, and realistic juvenile independence, but the fantasy it spins just makes it more fun.

The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley surprises with some decent educational content that naturally accompanies mysteries set near volcanoes and at U.S. Space Camp, for instance. Other stories incorporate learning into the mystery, as when the girls must piece together aspects of beekeeping to figure out what cloaked figure is scaring their client in an abandoned mansion. With a collection of fun songs and some funny scenarios to boot, these educational moments won't stand out to kids, but they do add another positive element to this enjoyable show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the investigation process as it's shown in The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley. How do the girls identify clues? Do all of them make sense at first? Did you figure out the answer before the girls did?

  • Where do the characters' travels take them? How long would you have to travel to get there from where you are? If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

  • Are your kids familiar with the Olsen twins? Are they good role models for girls? Why or why not? Who are some of your kids' role models?

TV details

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For kids who love mysteries

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