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 main character Bessie (played by Saturday Night Live star Amy Poehler) is a high-strung, extremely energetic 9-year-old whose over-the-top behavior is intended to get a laugh out of young viewers. She always manages to get her way by pestering both the kids and adults around her, including her mother -- who never seems able to resist her daughter's relentless persistence -- and her adoring younger brother, who bows to Bessie's every whim despite her dismissive attitude toward him. Bessie's total focus on doing whatever it takes to earn merit badges means that her social relationships with other people take a backseat to friendships with her dog and an imaginary friend drawn on her finger. Bessie ostensibly learns a mild lesson in each episode, but this chaotic, colorful 'toon is clearly meant to entertain rather than educate.
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What's the story?
For Bessie Higgenbottom (voiced by Amy Poehler), being a Honeybee scout is the greatest privilege in the world. She proudly dons her uniform every day, she hangs out in the hive-shaped fort she constructed from Popsicle sticks and macaroni, and she's always on the lookout for opportunities to add to her record-breaking badge collection in pursuit of her ultimate goal -- to become a superhero called the Mighty Bee. With help from her dog, Happy (Dee Bradley Baker); her pesky little brother, Ben (Andy Richter); and her imaginary friend, Finger, Bessie takes on the world's daily challenges with unparalleled exuberance and optimism.
Is it any good?
It's pretty unlikely that any show with Saturday Night Live funny lady Poehler on board not just as a star but also a co-creator wouldn't garner chuckles from its audience, and young tweens will likely enjoy Bessie's outlandish, fantasy-fueled adventures -- which are fast-paced and, on the surface, entertaining.
But Bessie is fairly one-dimensional; her single-minded devotion to badge acquisition (which she often pursues by pestering both adults and her peers to get her way) means that her social skills suffer. Plus, the show maintains a chaotic pace, and there are no real attempts to teach strong positive lessons. While Bessie's dedication to her goal could theoretically be considered admirable, the show makes light of her disregard for her adoring younger brother's feelings and her lack of real friends (in favor of an imaginary pal she draws on her finger and her reluctant dog sidekick). You have to wonder -- are those the makings of a truly mighty hero?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about setting and achieving goals. What do you think of Bessie's goal to be the Mighty Bee? Does it seem like something she can realistically achieve? Why or why not? What are some of your lifelong goals? How do you plan to achieve them? Do you have any role models who inspire you? Who are they? Families can also discuss Bessie's behavior. Is asking for something over and over really the best way to get it? How do you think people would react to Bessie in real life? Does exaggerating behavior make it funny? Why or why not?
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