The Mighty Underdogs

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
The Mighty Underdogs TV Poster Image
Kids compete to be top dog handlers in inspiring docuseries.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the world of competitive dog handling as well as seeing kids model positive behaviors.

Positive Messages

Positive messages around discipline, confidence, self-awareness, and treating dogs with compassion.

Positive Role Models

Kid dog handlers model self-control, working hard towards a goal, and being friendly to your competition. Parents are definitely competitive stage-moms that push their kids but they keep kids' emotional needs in mind.

Diverse Representations

Extended depictions of real-life characters with mental illness and gender diversity. The teenager with extreme social anxiety talks openly about her struggles, and the child of the trans parent talks supportively with his parent about their transition. Some gender counterstereotypes with girls being depicted as competitive and ambitious and boys talking openly about their feelings. On the flip side, all 7 kids featured are White, so the show lacks racial diversity.

Violence & Scariness

Some mild competitive language towards other dog show competitors, no insults or real hostility.

Sexy Stuff

Two dating teenagers talk about their relationship, some onscreen cuddling is the extent of physical affection.

Language

Some mild profanity like "crap" and some cursing-adjacent words like "frickin." One character makes a joke about their dog Kraken being a "crackhead." There's some slightly aggressive language towards competitors (joking about engaging in Tonya Harding-esque sabotage) but it's clear it's meant in jest.

Consumerism

One younger kid marvels at winning $50 prize money at a dog show. Showing dogs is traditionally an activity for the wealthy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Mighty Underdogs is a family-friendly reality show about kids learning how to be competitive dog handlers. There's a bit of language with mild curse words like "crap" and cursing-adjacent words like "frickin." One character makes a joke about their dog Kraken being a "crackhead." There's some slightly aggressive language towards competitors (joking about engaging in Tonya Harding-esque sabotage) but it's clear it's meant in jest. Parents of sensitive dog-loving kids should know that one storyline involves a kid being upset that her dog is sick and may die. Otherwise, the series provides an upbeat look into the lives of kids in the world of competitive dog showing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySundara1 December 3, 2021

Smart kids and Cute Canines, how can you go wrong?

My husband and I were really surprised by how much we liked this series. I thought it was going to be one of those dramas with pushy parents and spoiled kids. B... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

The Mighty Underdogs is a reality documentary series that follows kids ages 11-16 striving to be the top-ranked dog handlers in the United States. All of the featured kids are being trained by Jody Davidson, an elite dog handler who pushes the kids to excel with a tough love philosophy. At the Junior Showmanship level the kids compete in, the judges are actually scoring the kids' dog handling abilities instead of the actual dogs themselves. Accordingly, Davidson is extremely particular about the way the kids run with the dogs and keep control of them in the ring. Outside of the competitions and training, several of the kids are dealing with challenges in their personal lives. Sixteen-year-old Turner is coming to terms with his parent Nik's recent gender transition, and also faces competing against his girlfriend Emma who also shows dogs. Thirteen-year-old Lily got into showing dogs as a way to deal with crippling social anxiety, and while it has helped tremendously she still struggles with anxiety triggers. Several of the kids have to navigate having "dog show moms," parents that are hyper-competitive and super invested in their child's dog showing performance. With all this going on in the background, Davidson is doing her best to qualify as many of her accolytes as possible for the most high-profile dog shows like Westminster or the AKC National Championship. Can any of the kids rise to the challenge in this uber-competitive field?

Is it any good?

The Mighty Underdogs is a reality show that many kids and grown-ups will find compelling. Yes, the world of competitive dog handling is very niche and strange to outsiders (which the very adult mockumentary Best in Show explored at great length). Yes, it absolutely is a very white and wealthy hobby. With those caveats, the show itself is super entertaining. It's always interesting for kids to see other kids excelling at something, and this series is no exception. Their coach Jody Davidson is a hoot -- she is extremely nitpicky and calls kids out but it's clear she is coming from a place of love. The kids very easily articulate their feelings, both the good (how much they love their dogs and like winning) and the bad (how their parents seem to care more than they do sometimes). The show also admirably handles sensitive issues like a parent's gender transition and a kid's struggle with mental illness. As this is a reality show, there is some drama, but it's not over the top and the show is definitely sensitive to the fact that its subjects are children. The Mighty Underdogs is a fun show to watch with the whole family, especially if you're a family of canine-lovers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the kids' self-control. They have to have a lot of discipline to be in such a competitive hobby, and a lot of what they're judged on during competitions is their own self-control. Do you think you'd have what it takes to do well as a dog handler?

  • Some of the kids' parents seem to be more competitive than the kids themselves. Do you think it's okay for parents to be so intense about their kids' hobbies? What are the pros and cons of having parents that are so involved?

  • Part of why these kids love dog handling is being a team with their dog. Do you think you'd ever want to compete in something with a pet?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love getting inspired

Character Strengths

Find more TV shows that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate