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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Topsy and Tim is a British show inspired by children's books and an animated series of the same name, which centers on the adventures of twin siblings. The stories are set in and around Topsy and Tim's home and community and show the kids experiencing things like having chicken pox, getting a new pet, having their picture taken, and welcoming their teacher into their home. The kids' parents feature prominently in the stories, but the episodes are presented and narrated from the youngsters' point of view and convey the kinds of emotions youngsters might feel relevant to the different experiences. That said, this series has been criticized for its presentation of gender roles between the kids' parents (Dad works, Mom tends to the house and kids) and, in a few cases, involving Topsy and Tim under their parents' direction (assignments of chores, encouraged activities, etc.). Even so, this is a fun, kid-centric series about siblings who really like each other and who embrace the possibilities of new experiences.
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What's the story?
TOPSY AND TIM follows the everyday adventures of young twins Topsy (Jocelyn Macnab) and Tim (Joshua Lester) Odell. This slice-of-life series shows the siblings experiencing things like hosting a play date, getting an eye exam, going camping, and helping their Mom (Anna Acton) and Dad (Chris Hannon) with projects around the house. Other episodes deal with more memorable firsts like having an operation or getting lice. In every case, Topsy's outgoing nature and Tim's typically quieter demeanor present the experience from slightly different points of view, all while maintaining a kid's perspective of these kinds of events. Each episode wraps up with a memory game that challenges viewers to recall one aspect of the story.
Is it any good?
This books-based series captures the ups and downs of childhood with a decidedly rosy slant that garners mixed reactions among viewers. On the upside, the stories celebrate the joys of being a kid -- playing with your friends, experiencing new things, going to school, etc. -- all within the comfortable cocoon of a close and loving family. Conversely, the noticeable absence of any realistic disappointment or consequence for the kids' mistakes gives the Odell family's seemingly flawless life an unfeasible nature.
Another concern for some Topsy and Tim viewers may be the somewhat antiquated gender roles portrayed by the Odell parents. Theirs is a lifestyle where Dad works and Mom tends to the kids and the housework, and in some episodes it can be argued that they encourage that same mentality in their two children. In one case, family chores seem determined by gender; in another, Tim's mom won't let him decorate cupcakes because that's Topsy's activity with her friend. On the whole, though, these are fleeting moments in an otherwise pleasant and joyful series about childhood adventures, family relationships, and the bond between siblings especially.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sibling relationships. What makes them harder to manage than friendships? In what ways are they more special? Does Topsy and Tim's relationship seem realistic to you? How does it compare to your experience with brothers and sisters?
How do the characters respond to new experiences? Does their body language help convey their feelings along with what they say? Kids: Do you find it easy to talk about your feelings? Why is it valuable to do so?
How are Topsy's and Tim's personalities different from each other? What characteristics like compassion and curiosity do you notice in each? How do they complement each other when they work or play together?
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