A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Owl House is an animated fantasy series in which a teen aligns herself with a witch and a demon to fulfill her dream of learning witchcraft. The show has some complicated situations that parents should think about in determining whether their kids are ready for the story -- including the fact that Luz lies to her mother in order to follow her life's passion, befriends a rebellious witch who breaks society's rules to exercise her individual freedom, and keeps her true human identity a secret to succeed in a place of otherworldly creatures. But most older kids and tweens will recognize the balance between these aspects of the story and its more obvious, decidedly positive messages about self-esteem and individuality. A lead character is bisexual, a first for Disney. Expect some cartoon-style violence (hitting, slapping, and the occasional sanitized beheading that's quickly remedied) and name-calling like "sucker" and "weirdos."
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What's the story?
When an imaginative teen named Luz (voiced by Sarah-Nicole Robles) accidentally discovers THE OWL HOUSE and a world of fantasy and magic, she knows life will never be the same again. Suddenly the idea of a dull summer spent at "reality check camp" fades to black and Luz instead befriends a rebellious but kindhearted witch named Eda (Wendie Malick) and her small demon companion named King (Alex Hirsch). Alongside her new companions, Luz gets swept up into their quest for individual freedoms that challenge the conformist society of the Boiling Isles. With the whole summer ahead of her, Luz throws herself into the task of learning witchcraft as Eda's willing apprentice.
Is it any good?
This engaging and visually intriguing show is part fairy tale, part graphic novel, and part classic kids' series with obvious -- and worthwhile -- social themes. Put the parts together and you have one very likable, quirky story about a misfit teen who doesn't let what others think she should be like dictate how she sees herself and her self-worth. Instead Luz seizes the opportunity to follow her heart and develop her passion even though it contradicts the norms of both her human society and the new demonic one into which she arrives.
Of course, in order to do that, she has to break some rules. She deceives her mom to stay in Boiling Isle, misrepresents herself in the community, and throws in with witches and demons, for heaven's sake. But given the context of the story as a whole, these factors are minor relative to the more prominent takeaway about positive self-esteem. What's more, the fact that her new friends hail from traditionally infamous types but show their true natures through their actions reminds of the importance of not judging a book by its cover (or name). Even so, these potentially confusing factors should be weighed in considering your kids' readiness for the show. The great news is that TThe Owl House is exceedingly well written and animated and likely will be one you will want to watch alongside your older kids and tweens, giving you the opportunity to discuss these kinds of themes as they come up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Luz's decision to stay with Eda and King in The Owl House. What inspires her to do so? Are there repercussions for her decision? What risks would have to be considered in making a similar decision in the real world?
Why are individuality and self-expression frowned upon in the Boiling Isles? How does forcing everyone to act similarly make it easier to control them?
Is Eda a good mentor for Luz? Does the fact that she is a witch and/or rebels against the rules influence your opinion? In what ways can rebels be good examples of courage or integrity?
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