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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Who Was? Show is a sketch comedy series that features a cast of teens and the historical subjects of the popular Who Was? books. While it's not chock full of classroom-quality educational content, the show makes the idea of learning history fun through jokes, skits, silly songs, satire, and the caricature-style animation readers will recognize from the books themselves. Expect some bathroom humor that kids will find hilarious (an entire sketch on experimenting with ways to make farts smell better, for instance), and some lighthearted references to unpleasant historical truths like racial discrimination and martyrdom. If your kids haven't read the books, this series is an excellent way to encourage them to check them out.
What's the story?
THE WHO WAS? SHOW is a sketch comedy series inspired by the biographical Who Was? books for kids and tweens. Each episode brings to life two historical figures seemingly unrelated to each other and draws comparisons between their stories and legacies. The young cast members use skits, jokes, songs, improv comedy, and animation to create a show within a show, all in spite of clueless input from their well-meaning but dim producer, Ron (Andrew Daly).
Is it any good?
With unexpected pairings like William Shakespeare and King Tut, Sacagawea and Blackbeard, and Pablo Picasso and The Wright Brothers, this series introduces historical figures and events in a fun and memorable way. You may have to dig into their pasts to find similarities between the subjects, but the show builds conceptual themes that relate to them and then has fun with all the many ways they're different from each other. In other words, The Who Was? Show dusts off seemingly dull players and topics from the past and makes them and their stories intriguing to today's kids.
Beyond the basics of when and where the subjects lived and what were their important contributions to history, there's not a lot of factual information to be had in this lighthearted show. It's highly entertaining, especially in parts that drop these vintage characters among modern trends like technology and dance parties, and its use of satire and hyperbole garner deserved enjoyment. Even so, The Who Was? Show can inspire curiosity about history and its players in a unique way that grade-schoolers will like.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the work of the historical figures featured in this series continues to impact the world today. How different would our lives be without their contributions? Do you think they realized the full impact of their work at the time?
What data do historians use to piece together the details of events from the past? How much of history is conjecture? What physical evidence exists to support biographical accounts of the subjects of this episode in particular? What character strengths do you see in the historical figures portrayed in this series? Are you curious about some of them?
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