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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is a Netflix series that follows the events of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which was inspired by Dav Pilkey's popular books. Bathroom humor is the name of the game here; every variation of farts, poop, wedgies, briefs, and butts is mined for laughs. There's also vomiting, toxic slime, unsavory school lunch menus, and lots of other gross-out material at play. The main characters are intentional pranksters who rely on mischief to interrupt class and school functions, causing adults much grief and angering their cranky principal, whom they then hypnotize to strip down to his undies, don a cape, and save the day as Captain Underpants. Safe to say they never learn valuable (or realistic) lessons from their behavior, but they do have a lot of fun. Know that the stories rely on some stereotypical physical characteristics (being overweight, elderly, bald, etc.) for laughs, and there's some name-calling, like "tattletale" and "loser."
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What's the story?
THE EPIC TALES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS continues the story of best friends Harold (voiced by Jay Gragnani) and George (Ramone Hamilton), comic book artists and accomplished pranksters who use a hypno-ring to transform their grumpy principal, Mr. Krupp (Nat Faxon), into the severely underdressed superhero Captain Underpants. As their pranks have a way of snowballing into outright mayhem and the boys quickly run out of solutions for them, Captain Underpants' arrival is a welcome sight for the whole of Jerome Horwitz Elementary. Whether it's his super strength, his wedgie power, or some other secret he's got hidden in his utility waistband, Captain Underpants is always the man for the job.
Is it any good?
Flatulence, vomit, poop jokes, butt references, and underwear laughs sum up this series that's slightly less enthralling than the film that preceded it. Once again, if this kind of humor isn't your cup of tea, then The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants episodes will feel like two-hour movies themselves. But if you have the stomach for the gross-out stuff, then you're sure to enjoy the show's creative use of mixed media (sock and stick puppetry included) and clever humor that includes the characters addressing the audience directly at times.
It's difficult to love Harold and George's inability to take anything seriously, and viewed through a real-world lens, their pranks have detention and grounding written all over them. But if you can see past that, there are some positive qualities in their friendship and their creativity. The boys' control over Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants is a good opening for discussions about respecting authority figures, and the animation style's exaggerated representation of negative body traits encourages reminders of respect for differences. The bottom line? If your kids love the books and the movie, then they're sure to appreciate the laughs here as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of gross-out humor like that of The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. Why are taboo subjects like bathroom topics and body noises funny? Do parents enjoy them as much as kids do? Where should the line be drawn between what's appropriate for entertainment and what's not?
Does any of the show's slapstick violence affect you? Can it be scary even while it is funny? Do you like watching series or movies that scare you a little bit?
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