A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Empowering message is spelled out in theme song: Everyone has something they feel self-conscious about, it's only human, and "those little differences make us what we are" and can actually be source of strength, confidence. But message is subverted by the fact that powers are simply granted to Minimighty Kids magically -- they don't have to earn them. In addition, positive characters often use force to gain ends, just like characters that are presented negatively, which may confuse young viewers (how do you tell a bully from a hero, anyway?).
Positive Role Models
Less-than-positive characters are presented in stereotypical way. A rat, a pitbull, a wolf are villains at school, while sympathetically presented animals are ducklings, pigs, mice, dogs, etc. Villainous characters are frequently physically larger and are mocked for their size: "You big fat bowl of Jell-O." In one episode, a male character is called feminine by many classmates, called "she," told he stole someone's "little sister's voice." Female characters are rare, usually depicted as helpers or admirers of male characters, even if they anchor a segment; they often have stereotypical problems like being an "airhead" or a "motormouth." On positive side, friends can be supportive, giving out high fives, hugs, praise.
Violence & Scariness
Cartoonish violence is common, as when a set of firefighters find a stowaway in their vehicle, yank him out by the collar, and kick him literally into the air. He lands on his behind, seemingly unhurt. Characters presented as sympathetic are often violent to "bullies" (like when a character trips and kicks another during a fight), or commit acts of violence that the show seems to find funny -- e.g., a newly invisible boy steps on a dog's tail and laughs as the dog's eyes bug out.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to romance are on a grade school level, like when a male character fantasizes about being a knight, rescuing a female character dressed as distressed damsel. In one episode, a character loses his invisibility in front of whole school, who see his naked body. He covers up his genitals but we see his butt briefly; a schoolmate says, "We can see your bottom." This segment is summed up with rhyme "When nobody notices you it's tough / So just go out in the buff / You can be sure they'll see / Your naked bum and your wee wee."
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No cursing, but insults are common: "snot-nose," "pig," "pipsqueak," "you big oaf," "you big fat bowl of Jell-O," "you big ugly cockroach."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Minimighty Kids is an animated series about talking animals whose personal flaws are suddenly and magically turned into super powers. This message is a positive one, but it's thoroughly subverted by the many flawed messages throughout the show. Both villains and heroes frequently use violence to gain their ends, yet it's presented as funny and acceptable when "good" characters hit or kick each other. In one scene, a boy steps on a dog's tail and laughs when the dog's eyes protrude in pain. Villains are typically physically unattractive and dark-colored; heroes are usually light- or brightly colored, and cute. They're usually male too -- only a small percentage of the Minimighty Kids segments center on female characters, and even then, those characters have stereotypical problems like being an "airhead." Jokes are often vulgar, sometimes nauseatingly gross, like a character who constantly leaks bright green mucous that he splatters on other characters' faces. In another episode, a character who has previously been invisible is suddenly visible, and naked; we see his butt briefly and he recites a rhyme about how going out naked will allow others to see your "bum and wee wee." Characters are mocked for physical problems, stature (both those who are "too small" and who are "super fat"), gender presentation (one male character with a high voice is called "she"), and more, and insulting language is common: "You big fat bowl of Jell-O," "snot nose," "pig."
Is It Any Good?
The animation is charming and the jokes perfectly pitched at a second-grade level (i.e., gross body humor), but the messages in this French import are so iffy that parents may want to think twice. In the anonymous big city they live in, each anthropomorphized animal character feels alone at the start of each episode, marooned in solitary misery over their physical, emotional, and/or character flaws. By the end of each episode, they've come to appreciate, sometimes even to celebrate, the things they once lamented. So far, so good; self-acceptance is a message most can get behind.
But it's all the stuff in the middle of The Minimighty Kids that's problematic. Characters are painted in an awfully stereotypical way: unsympathetic characters are ugly, good characters are cute (and usually white to the dark-furred villains). Female characters are rare, and usually depicted as admirers and helpers for the male characters; if they star in their own segment, it's often for a classically female problem like being an "airhead" or a "motormouth." Some animals are mocked for their physical size, for atypical gender presentation, for physical problems that in real life would merit a trip to the doctor (persistent gas means a child has gastrointestinal issues, not that he's vulgar). Sophomoric gross-out humor is at Garbage Pail Kids levels, with many episodes focusing on body issues like farting, a runny nose, stinky feet, etc. One episode features a character with the "super sniffles" splattering everyone in sight with bright green mucous, and using ropes of it to rescue a girl from a burning building. Yikes. Shakespeare this is not.
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.