REVIEW: ‘Harriet the Spy’ Season 1 is a Kids Show for All Ages

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Harriet the Spy Season 1 Review

Harriet the Spy Season 1, an Apple TV+ original show, made its premiere this week. The series is an adaptation of a children’s book of the same name written and illustrated by Louise Fitzhugh that was published in 1964. The series follows Harriet M. Welsche (Beanie Feldstein), an 11-year-old girl who is determined to become the greatest writer of all time when she grows up. In order to accomplish her dream, Harriet will need to know as much as she can. This means that she will need to spy on everyone, even if she knows them or not. With the advice and support from her nanny Ole Golly (Jane Lynch) and her two best friends, Janie (Kimberly Brooks) and Sport (Charlie Schlatter), Harriet embarks on her journey to become the world’s greatest writer. 

While the episodes in Harriet the Spy Season 1 are rather short, every episode does an incredible job in establishing just how vivid Harriet’s imagination can be, which in turn helps the audience learn a lot about her. The use of color plays a major role during her thought process and also as she interprets things. It’s important to note that her thoughts and interpretations are often very exaggerated, mostly because of her age. Throughout the season, Harriet constantly seeks knowledge, which she believes will help her achieve her dream. Her constant curiosity about everything factors into the investigations that she does throughout the season. Unfortunately, this often gets her into trouble since she does whatever she can to spy on people. However, the show makes it clear that none of what she does has any malice. Most of what she does is driven by her desire to be the best writer. This desire is what makes her an entertaining character to watch as the season progresses. 

The relationship between Harriet and Golly that’s established in Harriet the Spy Season 1 is incredible to watch. Since Golly is her inspiration for wanting to become a writer, it makes sense that the two of them are close. Golly is constantly in Harriet’s corner and acts as her main support system. The choice to have Lynch voice Harriet’s nanny was excellent since she is able to establish Golly as a stern yet loveable and supportive person. Their conversations feel authentic and it’s clear just how much they care for one another. This is something I’m sure younger viewers will be able to relate to, especially with any supportive figure that they have in their life. 

Harriet the Spy Season 1 does a phenomenal job of establishing who Harriet is. As described earlier, a major element that defines Harriet is her thought process and interpretations. Emotions also play a major role in her characterization. In voicing Harriet, Feldstein is able to invoke emotions very well, never hesitating to voice how she feels. She’s true to who she is from the beginning of the show and never lets anyone or anything get in her way. With the show being set during the 60s, this version of Harriet embodies the feministic traits found in Fitzhugh’s book.

While the primary audience for Harriet the Spy Season 1 is younger kids, it never purposely disregards an older audience. The show certainly has that nostalgic factor for people who grew up reading Fitzbugh’s book. A lot of what’s included in this adaptation translates well from the original book. However, there are various elements that parents and educators can discuss with younger viewers. From the perspective of an educator, discussing Harriet’s motivations and interactions with the world around her would surely lead to an intriguing conversation with youth. Harriet’s development is handled in a way that younger viewers could find ways they relate to her during these discussions. As an educator, shows like these provide different ways in which discussions can be had. 

Ultimately, Harriet the Spy delivers an entertaining first season that’s for viewers of all ages. Though the episodes are rather short, Harriet’s vivid thoughts and interpretations of the world around her are given the spotlight in every episode. The relationship established between Harriet and Golly is developed well and shown as an authentic bond that Harriet can rely on for support and advice. As the season progresses, Harriet’s development gives her character more depth in terms of defining who she is. Watching this will definitely bring out the feeling of nostalgia, but Harriet the Spy Season 1 makes the benefits of both parents or educators watching this with younger viewers. I was definitely surprised by the various elements and aspects of the show that would make it an enjoyable watch. I will surely be showing this series to my students in the near future.

Harriet the Spy Season 1 is streaming now on Apple TV+.


Harriet the Spy Season 1
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Ultimately, Harriet the Spy delivers an entertaining first season that’s for viewers of all ages. Though the episodes are rather short, Harriet’s vivid thoughts and interpretations of the world around her are given the spotlight in every episode.