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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia is a sitcom about a brilliant Latinx teen girl who accepts a robotics job at age 15 and moves in with her football coach uncle Victor. Said uncle is the source of much of the show's mature humor, as a parade of women pass through his life and are apparently eager to have sex with him. Ashley is also interested in dating; she has a crush on one of her uncle's football players and agonizes over how to flirt with him and if they'll ever kiss. Some characters, like Victor, and Ashley's friends Tab and Brooke, are somewhat stereotypical, though Ashley is an unusual character who's justifiably proud of her accomplishments and a great role model. Adults drink wine on dates, and alcohol can be a subject of jokes, like when Ashley grabs a beer from her uncle's fridge and is told sternly to "put it down." There's no cursing, but there can be insulting language, like when a boy is called a "dolt" and "nitwit" by his dad. Messages of courage and teamwork do come through in the way characters try intimidating new things and work together to make plans fall into place.
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What's the story?
THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE OF ASHLEY GARCIA centers on (you guessed it) Ashley Garcia (Paulina Chávez), a 15-year-old genius who's just accepted a job at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That means she has to move away from her mother, Santina (Cristela Alonzo), who's about to get tenure at Wellesley, and in with her Uncle Victor (Jencarlos Canela). Santina is strict and intense, and Ashley hopes that in her new home, she'll be able to live more of a "normal" teen existence, and maybe even win the attention of hunky athlete Tab (Conor Husting) with the help of her new best friend Brooke (Bella Podaras).
Is it any good?
The jokes are just so-so and the vibe is very throwback sitcom, but the actors have great charm and the whole show has gentle tween appeal with strong pro-girl messages. Ashley isn't shy about mentioning her Doogie Howser-esque accomplishments: She was the youngest person to ever earn a PhD, started college at 9, and is now JPL's newest wunderkind. But there's nothing arrogant or braggy about Ashley; she just matter-of-factly accepts her intellectual gifts (and is accepted, and often admired, by those around her), even while she struggles with the kinds of things other teens are doing, like dating or putting on makeup. On those scores, Ashley's grateful to have Brooke, a much more typical teen, on board to guide her through mainstream milestones.
Ashley immediately hatches a crush on one of the sweet-but-dumb athletes coached by her Tio Victor (with Canela doing his best riff on a Charlie Sheen-style lothario), and launches into a series of romantic blunders that could be predicted from a million miles away. Nonetheless, it's a treat to see a young Latinx girl with so much confidence, not to mention plenty of support from her close (and sometimes pushy) family. The line-joke-topper rhythm of The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia is soothingly familiar enough to carry viewers along from foreseeable plot point to inevitable "everyone learns, laughs, and hugs" conclusions, and Ashley's easy to love. The whole thing comes off like a sweet Disney Channel series, just the thing for tweens aching to imagine what their own high school years might be like.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia shows that Ashley and her family are Latinx. How often do they speak in Spanish? How often does Ashley or do other family members talk about topics that relate to their heritage? How do movies and TV shows demonstrate people's backgrounds?
Did you find the story of a teenager who becomes a roboticist to be believable? Do you relate to the characters and what they're going through?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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