Available via Netflix streaming.
Middle School Moguls (TV-Y7)
Likable show has themes of diversity and perseverance.
“Middle School Moguls” is a four-part animated miniseries about students who attend an entrepreneurial school in which they work toward business success in fields that reflect their personal passions. The main characters are four tween girls with vastly different backgrounds, abilities and interests who forge strong friendships and always help and support one another’s efforts. The series strives to promote inclusion in small but notable ways, such as a student with same-sex parents, a teacher who’s non-binary and a tween who designs fashion for body types that challenge runway-industry norms. Kids who watch will see the characters learn to weather failure on their way to success, turning problems into opportunities and creating solutions for what stands in their way. The show’s recurring messages about dreaming big and working hard will stay with viewers long after the story ends. (Four 22-minute episodes)
Available via Nickelodeon streaming.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (TV-PG)
Prequel saga is tense, violent, and a visual masterpiece.
“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is a prequel series to Jim Henson’s beloved 1982 film “The Dark Crystal.” Fans will be thrilled to know that the show stays true to the puppetry and general appearance of the original while improving on the overall presentation. The intensity of the storytelling carries into this series, too, as does violence that’s all the more impactful because of the improved animation techniques. Battles are fought, sympathetic characters are hurt and killed, and there’s a general sense of dread surrounding the show’s villains. On the upside, the heroes demonstrate determination and courage in their willingness to counter public opinion and their effort to combat the Skeksis’s evildoing. (10 approximately hour-long episodes.)
Available via Netflix streaming.
Steven Universe: The Movie (TV-PG)
Bright, beautiful animated movie has surprising depth.
“Steven Universe: The Movie” is based on the world and characters of popular animated series “Steven Universe.” Like the show, the movie’s content is aimed more at tweens and teens than young kids; Steven himself is now 16. There’s frequent cartoonish violence, with characters hurled into space or “poofed” into cotton candy-like clouds, and viewers hear about mortal danger (e.g., characters have 37 hours to save the Earth) but only see a few drops of blood. One critical fight involves a character merely defending himself instead of fighting back at an angry enemy, which helps defuse her anger. Expect plenty of positive, heartfelt themes that are illustrated with visuals and songs about friendship, autonomy and kindness; characters admit and learn from their mistakes. Romantic content includes a moment in which a female friend kisses Steven and he blushes; two female characters dance together and sing a song about love. Language is infrequent, but at one point a character calls another a “dingus,” and there are two uses of “heck.” Parents may want to watch along with kids — and may be surprised to find depth and emotional intelligence in this uplifting movie. (90 minutes)
Available via Cartoon Network streaming.
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