Monday, September 9, 2019

You know, the InBestigators is jolly good fun

Our son recently discovered the children’s show The InBestigators on Netflix. Frankly, his parents might be getting more out of it than he is. 

Imagine if Encyclopedia Brown If it was a comedy and Australian and possibly directed by Christopher Guest. Four fifth-grade kids solve problems around their school and neighborhood with frequent cuts of them narrating the events as a vlog.

The show embraces the mockumentory format a lot more than I was expecting. We watch the kids usually doing something else (like failing at origami or not repairing a printer) while they describe the latest case to the camera. Instead of just being an occasional confession cam, the vlog is a subplot.

Each of the detectives has a distinct and quirky personality. Ezra is earnest and obsessed with science. Ava is hyper and super social to a silly degree. Sporty Kyle has a heart as big as a hot air balloon and his brain is about as empty as one well. Maudie, who is the one who actually does the detective work, is also withdrawn and socially awkward. It’s not the best child acting I’ve ever seen but it’s several cuts above very nice young men and women doing their best.

The writing is beautifully, wonderfully snarky. I don’t think our five-year-old gets half of the jokes. I love it when a children’s series includes bonuses for the parents but does so by being witty instead of ‘hidden’ raunchy. The show is actually funny.

As wacky as the show is, there are some surprisingly serious topics discussed. In addition to cases about cheating in class or vandalism, the show delves into parents getting divorced and bullying and losing a parent. And the InBestigators doesn’t give pat, easy answers to those subjects.

The InBestigators isn’t our new favorite show but it is funny and discusses things kids need to deal with in a non-preachy way. Our family is glad we found it and another season or two would be nice.

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