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 the main characters in this fantasy cartoon aimed at young girls wear minimal clothing that shows off their impossible body proportions. In other words, this show does little to promote positive body image in its young audience, since what kids see on-screen is an unattainable goal. Stereotyping is strong in a few of the teens, who moon over boys and talk about dating; evolving relationships mean there's some kissing and hugging, too. Violence is a concern, and although most of it is rooted in fantasy (energy balls, light swords) and blood and gore are nonexistent, some storylines incorporate a character's death. That said, the content's not all bad; the magical storyline appeals to young tweens' sense of fantasy, and recurring themes of cooperation, respect, and friendship offer some teachable moments.
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What's the story?
Bloom (voiced by Liza Jacqueline) is an ordinary teen whose life changes forever when she rescues Stella (Amy Birnbaum) from a pack of monsters. Once the dust settles, Bloom is shocked to learn that Stella is actually a fairy princess from another planet -- but that's nothing compared to Bloom's reaction to discovering her own magical powers. At Stella's urging, Bloom enrolls in Alfea College, a school for fairies in the Magical Dimension. Together with their roommates Musa (Lisa Ortiz), Tecna (Cathy Weseluck), and Flora (Kerry Williams), these powerful fairies form the Winx Club and set out to counter their enemies, a trio of witches from a rival school. They're often joined by four magical Specialists, and later episodes show them joined by new fairies Layla (Christina Rodriguez) and Roxy.
Is it any good?
Start with mystical fairy powers, add the ability to fly, flashy clothes, and the constant slumber-party atmosphere of a fairy boarding school, and you have any tween girl's recipe for fun. WINX CLUB is teeming with witches, warriors, and magical mysteries, but it's also bogged down by some content that's not so great for its very impressionable target audience. The girls sport tiny skirts and tummy-bearing tops that show off their impossibly small waistlines and slender legs, and everything from their long, flowing hair (pretty, but not very practical when you're fending off bad guys) to the mere poses they strike invokes some sexual undertones. And all that is in the absence of the guys, with whom they share hefty doses of flirting and eventually some dates and kisses.
Violence is the other sticking point, although it's pretty fantasized (mostly energy balls and magical powers), and blood is minimal. On the upside, though, if your tweens do tune in, they'll be treated to an imaginative story with bold, take-charge heroines who find strength in cooperation, creativity, and a thoughtful approach to solving problems.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about body image. What do you think of the way the characters' bodies are drawn? How does what you see on TV and in movies influence your impression of what's attractive?
Are any of the characters in this show good role models? If so, who? What qualities are important to you in a role model? Who are some of your role models?
What role does stereotyping play in entertainment? How do writers use stereotyping for comedy? Are there instances in which this type of content isn't funny? Can stereotyping ever teach a lesson?
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