Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street

Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 6 - 11 yrs.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Rating: TV Y7

Gortimer (Sloane Morgan Siegel) and his best friends Ranger (Drew Justice) and Mel (Ashley Boettcher) live in a typical suburban neighborhood - or so it seems.

On this "Normal Street," magical and mysterious things seem to happen all the time to these three kids.

In one episode, Ranger is worried that his parents' arguing is leading to a divorce, so he seeks out the school counselor. Instead of getting help, he volunteers to become a peer counselor and begins to listen to everyone else's problems. Soon he finds he can barely walk because his feet are so heavy. He literally is carrying the weight of his friends on his shoulders. "Fishsticks," he says - (and that the usual extent of the language on the show). In the end, Mel reminds him that friends and family are supposed to help us lighten our life load.

In another episode, overscheduled Mel misses a field trip for a day and suddenly her identity has been taken over by another girl, Tracy. A bit of magic and history have made it happen, but the lesson imparted is that: "Connection is the foundation of all great things in life." We all need friends.

An animated segment usually pops in the show - to help explain what's happening. It might be about science or it might be about friendship. It's usually poignant; it's never silly.

And in a truly heartbreaking episode titled "Gortimer vs. The End (the last that aired for the season) Gortimer packs up to move to the city, leaving everyone in tears as he says, "It's hard to say goodbye to good friends." Let's hope he's not gone for good.

Show creator and writer David Anaxoragas writes on his blog that "more than one" of this last season's episodes (which debuted on July 15, 2016) put a "lump" in his throat. It certainly put a lump in ours.

As the title says, Gortimer lives on Normal Street, but this show is anything but normal kids TV. It's much, much better. Amazon has bested two of its rival producers of 'tween drama shows. "Gortimer" is charming, endearing, a little magical and a lot wonderful.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, began her career at The Washington Post and went on to spend more than two decades with USA Today, where she covered pop culture topics. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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