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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that InBESTigators is an Australian series featuring four unlikely friends who form a detective agency to solve mysteries brought to them by town locals. Ezra, a precocious, tech-savvy kid, Maudie, the wickedly smart and socially awkward new girl, Tyler, an immensely likable goof, and dramatic Ava are as different as could be, but each bring unique talents to the team. Though not officially an educational show, the pint-sized detectives use the critical thinking skills of observation, analysis, evaluation, and explanation in the course of their investigations. Themes of kindness, teamwork, and responsibility make this a solid pick, which also has a racially diverse cast that often defies gender roles.
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What's the story?
The INBESTIGATORS are formed when Ezra sees new student Maudie asking questions and connecting dots like a whiz kid investigator after a tin of bake sale money goes missing. In awe of her skills, he asks her to start a detective agency with him. Fellow classmates Tyler and Ava dedicate themselves to the venture, too. They set up shop in a granny flat in Ezra's backyard, plaster the neighborhood with promotional fliers, and clients flow in. They unravel cases like packages missing from a porch, a missing science project, and a secret-turned-rumor. When the "crimes" are unraveled and the responsible party is confronted, viewers learn the motivation for the crime (for example, the missing science project was stolen, altered, and turned in as his own by a kid who was embarrassed to turn in a poorly done project). The perpetrators always apologize, and learn some sort of lesson or moral, like "stealing hurts others," and "turn in your own work."
Is it any good?
This hilarious mockumentary comedy is a delight to watch along with kids. The little actors' lines are often dripping with kid-friendly sarcasm and good-natured humor, and these cheeky kid detectives will keep parents chuckling along with their young viewers. The mysteries in The InBESTigators are generally low stakes (missing bake sale money, prank callers, a turtle thief), but sophisticated enough to keep big kid viewers engaged and guessing along. The morals and values that get emphasized once a mystery is solved are relevant to young tweens.
It's delightful to see super smart Maudie take charge on the investigations, but it can also seem like there are stereotypes attached to Ezra and Kyle. Aside from this critique, the show has role-model worthy characters, life lessons that don't come off as preachy, and adults who largely trust kids to solve their own problems; it's an enjoyable, age-appropriate comedy for tweens, and parents will be entertained as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the critical thinking skills used by the kids in The InBESTigators. How do they use observation, analysis, evaluation, and explanation as they investigate? Have you ever solved a mystery? How?
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