Kids’ TV Show recommendation: Carmen Sandiego

The animated reboot of the Eighties video game Carmen Sandiego from Netflix casts the protagonist as a master criminal turned modern-day Robin Hood figure

 

Each month, MCC co-founder Sara Khaled selects a fun or educational TV show that has caught her eye; tried and tested by her four young children. This week, Sarah takes a look at Carmen Sandiego, a Canadian-American animated series about a girl abandoned as a baby and brought up to be a thief, but who later works to return the items stolen and frustrate any further thefts. 

Show: Carmen Sandiego

Platform and streaming: Netflix

Age: 7 upwards

 

Summary

Carmen has had many incarnations, beginning as a video game in the Eighties, then becoming a PBS game show. Her character and backstory has changed over time from her being rather less than a good citizen, to being a modern-day Robin Hood who steals only from the thieves themselves.

This reboot of the tale from Netflix first appeared in 2019 reimagining Carmen’s backstory. In this version she has been brought up in a criminal organisation called VILE and learns to be a superthief. Later she comes to realise that this is wrong, and works against her mentors.

Each episode is about 22 minutes long, so will be suitable for most children. It should be noted that children younger than seven might find some of the storylines a little dark – there are a lot of villains in the piece, and not all younger children might grasp that Carmen is not the baddie, even though she appears to work for a criminal organisation.

 

Why we love it

  • The series deals with a serious topic – stealing from people and hurting them – and does it in a way which is not threatening, hammering home the point that dishonest and mean behavior is wrong.
  • Carmen travels the world on her quests, and shows her interest in learning about other people’s cultures. There are learning opportunities about diversity, culture, and geography.
  • The people she deals with and the countries she visits also illustrate the point that people are not always as they seem.
  • In most of the episodes, there is a rundown between Carmen and her sidekicks of the locations to which they are heading. This is virtually a disguised lesson in world geography, as are the depictions of the places they visit.
  • In the same vein, art treasures and other artefacts that Carmen proposes to steal are shown in their proper settings, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and there’s an art history lesson tucked away in there too!

Watch the trailer

Stream now on Netflix

About the author

Sara Khaled is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she lives with her husband and four young children, aged between 6 months and 10 years old. A public health graduate of King Saud University, Sara is a co-founder of Moon Community Club, and passionate advocate of causes that promote social development.

Image credits: Netflix

 

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