Toca Life Stories

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Toca Life Stories TV Poster Image
Mellow slice-of-life shorts are fun but can feel like ads.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The series paints a mostly positive picture of a community and its members, suggesting the value of each person's contribution to the whole.

Positive Messages

Kids see the characters interact with community members and friends in positive ways. Their adventures demonstrate the value of different services to a community, such as a neighborhood store and various entertainment venues. Recurring theme of friendship. Some potty humor, as when a boy plays with his snot to "pet" the tiny germs inside.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adult characters often are cast as naive. Kids are good friends and get into mostly harmless mischief.

Violence & Scariness

Rarely slapstick-style incidents, as when a character punches a friend to snap him out of a fit of sorts.

 

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Oh my God" on occasion.

Consumerism

The series is based on the Toca Life apps and features the characters and settings in their virtual play world. Kids who watch may take an interest in seeing what the apps have to offer.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toca Life Stories is a series of animated shorts based on the characters and settings in the popular Toca Life apps series. The stories center on the experiences of four friends -- Zeke, Rita, Nari, and Leon -- in the community where they live and play, following them as they go to the movies or visit the local grocery store, for instance. Viewers can infer how various members contribute to the community as a whole, and the characters' interactions are genteel throughout. These slice-of-life vignettes are cute on their own, but they're also effective ads for the apps themselves, which allow users to dictate the same characters' moves in various community locales. Expect some mild potty humor but otherwise lighthearted fare in these characters' experiences.

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What's the story?

In TOCA LIFE STORIES, best friends Leon, Nari, Zeke, and Rita fill their days with adventures of their own making in their neighborhood. They go to the movies, visit local attractions, frequent nearby businesses, create viral videos, and even have some fun at each other's expense. Their home on OK Street is a bustling place, and these friends make good use of their time in exploring what's around them.

Is it any good?

This YouTube series does its job well . . . if that job is enticing new users to try out the Toca Life apps, that is. By endearing the foursome of characters to viewers, Toca Life Stories brings new visibility to the franchise. These are true slice-of-life clips; there's no backstory to the kids themselves or to their friendship, and new characters are introduced without fanfare. All of this lends itself to a seamless transition for viewers to become users of the apps that put them in control of the characters' actions in community settings like a hospital or an afterschool activity venue.

Toca Life Stories is a prime example of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) entertainment; kids ward off boredom by exploring their town and getting into mild mischief now and then. There are no lessons to be learned, no messages to be considered, and nothing worth digging below the surface to find. On the upside, though, their experiences do emphasize the value of community members of all different types in keeping a society running for the common good.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the style of Toca Life Stories, which essentially drops viewers into the life experiences of the characters without background or context. Are the characters and their actions compelling to you? Do you wish you knew more about them, or is that unnecessary to the enjoyment of the show?

  • Were your kids familiar with the Toca Life apps before seeing this series? If so, does watching make playing the apps more enjoyable? If so, in what ways? If this is their first exposure to the characters and settings, are they inclined to seek out the other Toca Life digital toys because of it?

  • What rules does your family have about screen time? How do you manage it? What different types of screens do you use on a daily basis?

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