This is a guest post, written by Jarrod from www.oursearchforpradise.com who also happens to be my husband 🙂
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On a lazy, rainy summer day, there isn’t much you can do with four young girls, age 5-7. I mean you can read, or draw, or do projects, but sometimes, you just feel like vegging out in front of the TV for a few hours.
Today, my daughter turned on Netflix and was drawn to the show Spirit: Riding Free (Season 1) This show is exclusive to Netflix and produced by Dreamworks. It is based on a movie from 2002, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. Although I, nor my daughter has seen this movie, we will be watching it soon. As are many young girls and no doubt many boys as well, she was drawn to the horse theme of the show.
The show centers around a girl nicknamed “Lucky” who recently moved out to the old west and befriends a wild, untamed horse, Spirit. She also makes a fast friendship with 2 other young girls, Pru and Abigail. Lucky, Pru, Abigail and their horses go on many adventures throughout the first season of Spirit: Riding Free.
Although I did not watch intently while preparing lunch and attending to other matters while babysitting the four girls, I picked up on a few common themes; perseverance in the face of adversity, friendship, and consequences for your actions. This last theme I feel is missing from much TV that targets children past the “preschool” age group. My wife and I have had many discussions about the programming found on TV today. Often times on other programs the kids will disobey the rules and have no consequences. Sometimes the shows are even worse, glorifying bullying of friends or being shallow and judgmental, stereotyping others by how they look or their interests. These negative behaviors were not evident in Spirit: Riding Free. In the first episode Lucky met a, let’s call her affluent, girl who did show these negative traits, but she was made to be a bad example, as she should. I teach my daughter and her friends that kindness is the most important trait and I want them to consume media, books, movies, or TV, that reinforce that.
In addition to the storytelling and themes, the aesthetics of the show were beautiful, full of an ideal western setting with red mesas, mountains, and canyons balanced with ponderosa forests and grassy plains dotted with oaks. I personally have longed to be out west, especially after visiting the high deserts of Northern Arizona. There is something very romantic and alluring to the American West, and I feel Spirit: Riding Free does a great job of capturing this atmosphere.
The CGI animation is as one would expect from Dreamworks, very beautiful and vibrant. I enjoyed how they decided to animate the horses to have humanistic traits, personality and emotions, without crossing a psychological line where you knew they were still animals. Think, more like Pluto and less like Scooby-Doo, and definitely not like Goofy.
Lastly, I really enjoyed the theme song which I feel was very reminiscent of “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The theme song, as does the aforementioned “Home”, both give me a feeling of happiness, optimism, and longing. For me, music is a gateway into emotion, and this theme sets the stage for the show that is full of adventure.
All-in-all, I believe this a quality family oriented cartoon for children of all ages and I recommend it.