A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that absurdity is a constant in this unpredictable cartoon about a mischievous boy and his willing goldfish-turned-sibling accomplice. The show's colorful animation and unusual characters will make an impression on viewers, and the exaggerated troubles that Gumball finds himself in may be relatable to kids' experiences with handling responsibility and following directions. Most of the violence is pretty unrealistic (surviving a fall from the sky, for instance), and Mom herself turns to smashing and punching things when tension’s at a breaking point, which is often. That said, the young characters' attempts to mend the scrapes they find themselves in and the show's overall wacky view of the world -- and the unique people in it -- are sure to garner some chuckles.
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What's the story?
THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL centers on the misadventures of a 12-year-old cat named Gumball (voiced by Logan Grove), for whom chaos at home is nothing compared to the scrapes he can conjure up for fun. Accompanied by his good friend and former goldfish, Darwin (Kwesi Boakye) -- who shocked the Watterson family by sprouting legs and moving in with the family as an honorary kid -- and his genius younger sister, Anais (Kyla Rae Kowalewski), Gumball is never lacking big ideas for fixing the problems he finds himself in. But even when he's patched things up as best he can, he's still got to own up to his shenanigans to his frazzled mom, Nicole (Teresa Gallagher).
Is it any good?
Full of quirky characters (peanuts and bananas, for starters) and a lot of over-the-top humor, Gumball's world is a place where kids' wildest imaginings will likely come to pass. Usually it's his good intentions that get him into trouble, and his subsequent attempts to fix the problem actually wind up forcing him into a deeper hole, a situation that some viewers can probably sympathize with. Kids will see the humor in Gumball's failed efforts -- like trying to pass off a cardboard DVD replica as one he ruined from a rental store -- but the fact that the learning process usually is lost on him means there aren't any real lessons to be found here.
Expect some of the typical gross-out humor (puking and the like) that's guaranteed to keep kids' interest and some fairly frequent cartoony violence (punching, kicking, extreme accidents) with little real-world effect. If parents tune in, they'll notice another layer of humor aimed at the family dynamics, with the mom filling the roles of both breadwinner and housekeeper and the dad amounting to very little. Unfortunately her work overload sometimes means she's stressed to the max and resorts to shouting and punching walls, but in calmer moments, her kids are her world.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about comedy. Do you find this show funny? What parts of it do you like the most? How does the animation style contribute to the comedy? Which characters strike you as the funniest? Why?
Kids: How do you handle stress? What kinds of things stress you out the most? How does stress affect your body and mind? How does it impact your ability to do well in school or participate in extracurricular activities? What coping techniques exist to help?
Kids: What are your family’s rules about watching TV? Do you have daily or weekly time limits? How do you know if a show is appropriate for you? Why do your parents establish these rules? What are some activities you enjoy besides watching TV?
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