21 Jun 2021

TV shows to enjoy with younger family members

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 2:07 pm on 21 June 2021

Avatar the Last Airbender 

Not to be confused with what Caitlin Cherry says is “a terrible movie”, the TV series originally aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008 and is now on Netflix. 

“It’s widely regarded as one of the greatest children’s cartoon series ever made.” 

Set in an Asiatic-type world, Cherry says there are four different tribes of people and each one can manipulate one of the four elements: water, fire, earth and air. 

“Ang, the main character is 12-years-old and he’s the avatar, so he’s an airbender but actually the only person in the world who can master bending all the elements, so that’s all about bringing harmony to the four nations who are constantly waring.” 

He meets up with some other kids and they travel the world trying to stop the fire nation from taking over the other nations, Cherry says. 

It also has a parallel story about the exiled prince of the fire nation who was thrown out by his dad for pointing something out that his dad didn’t want to know, she says.  

“The way he’s supposedly meant to regain his honour is by capturing Ang.” 

Cherry says any age can watch it, from five and up. 

“It manages to deal with issues of genocide, emperialism, family disfunction but still the basic story is a bunch of kids, in some cases orphaned, banding together, taking on the adults and having adventures on the way.” 

Sweet Tooth 

Set ten years after a pandemic, known as The Sick, wiped out much of the world’s population and caused hybrid babies – part animal part human – Sweet Tooth focuses on a little boy called Gus. 

 Gus has deer antlers and deer ears and has been raised in Yellowstone National Park because the last humans are trying to kill off the hybrids, believing they caused the pandemic. 

“It’s post-apocalyptic yet somehow it manages not to be too bleak.” 

There are a few different storylines in the show so just when one story may be getting a bit grim, you flick back to one of the others who is having more of a comic phase, Cherry says. 

“I don’t know how but it traverses some pretty big issues while being quite a gentle ride.” 

Most episodes are directed by New Zealander Toa Fraser and it was filmed in New Zealand too, so there’s a splattering of Kiwi actors throughout. 

Cherry recommends this one for anyone over the age of ten.