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 WITS Academy is a sequel to the Nickelodeon series Every Witch Way. It offers little background but often makes references to the story and characters who bridge the two shows, so kids who haven't seen the preceding show may want to check it out. The show plays up a rivalry between the main character and a classmate who does everything she can to sabotage Andi's success, partly because of personal dislike and partly because of prejudice against the school's only non-magical student. The lone adult figure is silly and superficial, but Andi's determination to succeed and willingness to learn from mistakes makes her a decent role model in this otherwise unremarkable series.
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What's the story?
WITS ACADEMY picks up where Every Witch Way left off, with Andi Cruz (Daniela Nieves) embarking on her first magical adventure after being the longtime sidekick and BFF of Emma, aka the Chosen One. Now that Emma is otherwise engaged, Andi is ready to train in earnest at WITS Academy to become the Magic Realm's first human Guardian to the Chosen One. But when the school headmaster, Agamemnon (Todd Allen Durkin), puts her in charge of witch-in-training Jessie (Julia Antonelli), Andi knows she's got her work cut out for her, and her manipulative classmate, Ruby (Kennedy Slocum), further complicates matters. Even kindly Luke (Ryan Cargill) puts up a fight for top honors, since his family legacy is at stake should Andi succeed at her quest to be a Guardian.
Is it any good?
This series improves on its predecessor by dialing down the clientele's infighting to a manageable cattiness rather than full-blown spite, but otherwise it's more of the same from this add-on. Telenovela formats being what they are, there are lots of characters to manage, relationships to monitor, and chaos to create for drama (and sometimes humor). Predictably, there's also plenty of impassioned acting and a lot of cheesiness to the presentation as a whole.
With so many characters, there are many subplots that give some variety to the story, but the primary dynamic exists between Andi and her rival, Ruby, who's motivated by frustration and jealousy to sabotage Andi's success time and again. This is bothersome enough, but it's even more bothersome when you consider that she manipulates her young protégés into doing so as well. Though it deserves some credit for propping up a strong female character in the indomitable and determined Andi, WITS Academy's otherwise mixed messages are concerning as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
How does Andi work to break down barriers in her new magical world? Are there institutions that are gender-specific or otherwise segregated in the real world? Is it realistic to expect everything to be equal for different people, or should some rules exist about who can fill certain jobs or perform specific tasks?
Are the relationships shown here indicative of what your kids experience with their peers? Have they ever witnessed bullying or manipulation among friends? What are some ways to deal with difficult people like Ruby?
What is the draw to topics of magic in shows like this one? Do we ever outgrow the appeal of make-believe? Would magical powers improve or complicate the world as we know it?
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