A cartoon after my own heart

I can’t believe two things: One, that there is a cartoon about a girl superhero who loves words. And two, that I didn’t create it, or at the very least for write it.

If you have a young daughter, chances are good you know what I’m talking about: That’s right, Word Girl on PBS Kids. And if not, well, here’s the basic overview:

“In a city gone plum loco, where evil lurks behind almost every corner, a new champion rises up to protect the innocent, right the wrongs and throw around a bunch of pretty impressive words … WORD GIRL!

Word Girl, as the booming announcer voice tells us, hails from the planet Lexicon (I know, brilliant!) with her monkey pilot (a monkey pilot!) named … ready for it? Captain Huggy Face!

Word Girl is … in a word, awesome. Or, fascinating, incredible, marvelous, stunning and wonderful. Take your pick. Word Girl would, right after she saved you from the falling beam that is about to drop on your head from the construction site above.

In trying to assess what is so brilliant about Word Girl, I was reminded of a screenwriting class I took several years ago with the famous Robert McKee. I know a lot of people — especially indy filmmakers — love to hate him. In fact, he was even mocked in the 2002 Spike Jonze film, Adaptation.

McKee is certainly mock-worthy. He’s a brash, self-righteous, know-it-all who swears a lot. But I would argue that anyone who takes his class walks away a better writer for it.

One thing he said in particular has stayed with me and applies to both screenwriting and copywriting: Never underestimate your audience; they are smarter than you think.

And this is exactly why Word Girl works so well. Unlike so many shows (and products) geared toward girls, Word Girl doesn’t dumb anything down. The show is unabashedly subversive, creative, funny and fresh.

It’s certainly worth checking out. And who knows; you might even learn a new vocabulary word or two.

You can also see Word Girl being interviewed by Jim Lehrer, where she explains why poor word choice bugs her more than villainy.

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