We write many reviews on the adult Netflix here. But what about the *other* Netflix? You know the one. It’s all colourful and saccharine and full of lessons and songs. Parents will know the terrifying place I am alluding to here: it’s the ‘Kids’ Netflix. The part with sets of menus that are bulging out of the cookie jar with stuff so cute that your eyeballs get all gummed up with candy floss. Problem is that you know as a parent you really shouldn’t just leave your child in front of the TV unattended for ages at a time so you end up watching stuff with them, and your little mites have patchy quality control.
Let me therefore take it upon myself to point out some shows that have qualities beyond flat screen pacifiers. One such programme is True and the Rainbow Kingdom. True is an eight-year-old guardian who lives in a land full of often minor, and occasionally, major problems that need her help. When duty calls she visits The Wishing Tree and is allocated three chirpy anthropomorphic wishes who zap themselves into her backpack for later use.
On the face of it, True and the Rainbow Kingdom is another sickeningly sweet show that is generally available by the fistful all over Netflix. But once you’ve had a few episodes skip past your eyes you’ll find yourself chuckling and, heck, maybe even humming some of the songs. True does the typical repetitive thing in that certain key stages of the episode will have the same glitzy animation and tune combo – like True collecting or using any of her wishes. These moments invariably delight children but, gosh darn it, they are actually pretty satisfying as an adult too.
There are two draws for me that get the various True shows over the line into bearable, nay, enjoyable. Firstly: the wishes. These are super cute little fun balls that all look a little different depending on their function. If you think of them as giggling glitter Pokémon then you are on the right track and the writers obviously ‘borrowed’ that aesthetic. The wishes gurgle their own names and display unique traits that complement their power so in each episode their appearances are fun to watch out for, especially when it is genuinely unclear how they will be useful at first.
Secondly: the writing. There is the slight bite of sarcasm and daftness that creeps into the episodes, like a teenager skulking in the back corner of a kids party that can’t help but enjoy the silly magician. Bartleby the Cat has a wry eyeroll to his character which can cut through the sugar. Self-centred Princess Grizelda is the slightly spoiled girl as written through a sympathetic lens: she frequently causes problems for the citizens she is trying to be adored by. The show doesn’t go full brat with her character though but often pokes fun at her expense. And, quite frankly, I love the Yetis. Big hairy creatures that communicate in nonsensical noises but stick out like a slapstick siren compared to the general candy coated nature of the show.
Such challenges for True to overcome vary wildly. She may need to placate Glummy Glooma – cousin of the Rainbow King – in an episode that plays like a condensed version of Pixar movie Inside Out within which, thankfully, the chirpy ‘cheer up’ approach is shot down quick. True may have to deal with a very smelly creature in an episode that delightfully dances around whether or not to tell someone about their, um, personal odour issues. Or, with the occasional ramping up of stakes, she may have to stop the entire kingdom from being frozen into an icy wasteland that will kill the Wishing Tree and end life as we know it in the Rainbow Kingdom. As you do.
There is very little chance you will be watching True and the Rainbow Kingdom or any of its subsequent follow-ons (Magical Friends, Wonderful Wishes, the many many holiday based one offs, etc) unless you have quite young children. But I feel it my duty to tell you that despite the massive primary colours in the artwork and the super cute ‘lets all learn a lesson here today’ initial look, True as a franchise is actually a pretty fun watch. True!
Words by Mike Record