A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Violetta is an Argentine soap-style drama series aimed at teens that's been dubbed for English-speaking viewers. It follows a teen's coming-of-age as she identifies her values and follows her dreams. To do so, she sometimes breaks her father's rules, but the point is never to hurt him, but to chase her own opportunities. Teen relationships yield some physical closeness but nothing suggestive, and bullying behavior usually is more in line with getting a peer in trouble with teachers or a boss than anything physically harmful. Even so, what takes center stage are the positive relationships that exist among teens who support each other, as well as strong messages about empowerment that follow Violetta's development through a love of music.
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What's the story?
After living a lonely life in Europe for many years, VIOLETTA (Martina Stoessel) returns home to Buenos Aires with her father, German (Diego Ramos). The arrival refreshes many questions the teen has about her mother, whose untimely death many years ago caused a rift in the family that German hoped to put behind him by heading overseas, but German refuses to talk to his daughter about his late wife. Fortunately for Violetta, her aunt, Angie (Clara Alonso), re-enters her life and becomes her mentor, giving her piano lessons at the prestigious music school Studio 21. There Violetta discovers her untapped talent for singing as well, a skill that she inherited from her mother but that her father adamantly discourages. Meanwhile, being among peers at Studio 21 raises a whole new set of issues for the sheltered teen, and she must navigate the ups and downs of friendships, crushes, and the mixed emotions of growing up.
Is it any good?
Violetta enjoys huge success in its native Latin America, prompting Disney to release this English version of the teen soap to a wider audience. It's much what you would expect from such a telenovela -- highly exaggerated, exuberantly acted drama among both the teens and adults. There's plenty of romantic angst, a fair amount of bad behavior (kids undermine each other to stand out in their classes, a woman schemes to force a marriage, Violetta herself defies her father's wishes to follow her dreams, etc.), and contentious family relationships. Through it all, a sensitive teen copes with the memory of her late mother and struggles to find answers to the questions she has about her.
At the same time, the show has some decent content to offer teens who watch, especially when it comes to Violetta's character. She's the epitome of a boundless spirit, undaunted by the confines of the life she's led thus far and determined to embrace the possibilities of her future. In so doing, she has to define her own sense of right and wrong, and she aligns herself with people who share her strong values. Even better, because hers is so positive an example, the negative behavior of some of her less likable peers stands out more obviously for viewers, making it easy to differentiate between right and wrong.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about relationships. Do shows like this one paint a realistic picture of how teens relate to each other in the real world? When they exaggerate, what purpose does it serve?
Tweens: What messages do you get about body image from the media you consume? Do you often see different sizes and shapes represented? If not, does this imply anything about what's considered "beautiful"?
Violetta has to break some rules to follow her dreams. Parents and tweens can talk about some of their own family rules and reasons for them. What boundaries do you have for your tweens dating? For screen time? What is the relationship between your kids' responsibilities and their privileges?
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