WordGirl

Why it’s great for teens.



   Cartoons.  They are immensely popular.  The animated films are now made for tots, kids, teens, and even adults!  But you will have to admit: many cartoons are weird, inappropriate, or just plain disturbing.

     So, are there any clean and genuinely funny cartoons out there, which delight not only the younger viewers, but also adolescents and adults?  Finding one can be hard, but after years of searching, one show popped into my radar: WordGirl.

Synopsis

     Winner of two daytime Emmys for “outstanding writing in animation”, WordGirl was first aired in 2007.

     WordGirl is a lot like a modern Superman.  She is from the planet Lexicon and has super strength, speed, hearing, and the ability to fly.  When WordGirl was a baby, she, along with her monkey sidekick, Captain Huggy Face, crash-landed on planet earth.  They were found and adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Botsford, who call WordGirl ‘Becky’ and Huggy Face ‘Bob’.  Becky and Bob keep their identity a secret from all, save for the narrator (who is good friends with WordGirl and enjoys teasing the characters), and her adopted grandfather.

     Whenever trouble strikes the city, Becky transforms into her superhero costume and flies off with Huggy to save the day. 

     An assortment of villains lurk in the city, including: Tobey, a robot building boy-genius who secretly has a crush on WordGirl; Granny May, an old woman who attacks with knitting needles, petrified purse mints, and perfume with a stench that resembles mothballs; the Butcher, a man who butchers the English vocabulary and is able to shoot meat out of his hands; and cheese loving Dr. Two-Brains, a once kind scientist who accidentally fused his brain with a mouse brain.  (Does that sound creepy?  Don’t worry--he is nothing more than a softened and entertaining version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)  WordGirl maintains a friendly companionship with the villains, despite the fact she and the villains must constantly battle against each other.

Education

     WordGirl’s main purpose, of course, is to teach words.  The teaching level averages from ages 9-12, but the producers often throw in ‘bigger’ words for teenagers and adults.  Words include: crestfallen, stymie, bugaboo, curmudgeon, and ricochet.

     Children also learn family values, ones that surpass what most ‘kid shows’ teach, such as how to overcome jealousy and the ins and outs of sibling rivalry.  The producers also throw in some helpful topics for the older audience as well: how to actually stop a bully, keep someone from copying you, and how to tell someone about a difficult matter.

     The New York Times puts it as following:

“Dorothea Gillim, the show’s 43-year-old creator and executive producer, set out to develop a show parents would watch with their children to reinforce the learning.  ‘Part of my mission is to make kids’ television smart and funny,’ she said. ‘I feel as though we’ve lost some ground there [in other kids’ television shows], in an effort to make it more accessible,’ she added, citing characters like Bugs Bunny that worked on child and adult levels. ‘I hope that it will be a groundbreaking show for PBS. Who knew that they could be funny?’”

[Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/arts/television/02jens.html; tenth paragraph from top.]

Comedy

     Ah, comedy.  Is there such thing as a cartoon that actually makes adults and kids laugh at the same time?  Yes, there is, if you watch WordGirlWordGirl is chock-full of wholesome hilariousness, with more humor than any other PBS show I know of.

     Several of the many jokes are centered for the childhood audience.  However, there are just as many wisecracks for adolescents and grown-ups.  There are some jokes only adults will understand, and I have as often as not missed a joke that my parents ‘got’.

     WordGirl also loves to make fun of other TV shows, well-known people, and organizations.  For example, in mimic of Superman, WordGirl looses her powers whenever she comes into contact with Lexonite--space rock from her home planet, Planet Lexicon.

Actors

     One of the best qualities of WordGirl comes from the voiceovers’ remarkable acting talents.  Indeed, the skillful acting makes the already fantastic show sparkle with clarity and action.

     Some of the actors include:

Ÿ  Dannah Phirman (voice of WordGirl)--a screenwriter, comedienne, and actress in various shows.

Ÿ  Tom Kenny (voice of the evilest villain, Dr. Two-Brains)--a professional actor who also does the voice of Sponge Bob in Sponge Bob.

Ÿ  Weird Al Yankovic (voice of the extra-suffix-loving villain, the Learnerer)--a well-know singer.

     Some of the villains may sound ‘creepy’, but none are really scary or threatening.  When I was only eight, I used to be a little wary of Dr. Two-Brains, but once I grew to understand him, he became one of my favorite television characters.  Also, there are NO crimes attempted or committed involving murders, violence, or any other offensive material.

     So, if you are looking for a wholesome cartoon that doesn’t limit the age of the viewer, I think you will be delighted when you watch WordGirl.

          Get ready to enjoy a humorous, thrilling show with NO bad language, deep romance, revealing clothes, or alcohol!

TV Times

     WordGirl runs Monday through Friday, and nearly all nearby PBS channels play it from 3:30-4:00 pm.  Find which channel on your television hosts WordGirl at: http://pbskids.org/tvschedules/stationfinder.html.

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