Why ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ is not just a show for kids

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ has taken Netflix by storm with a spot in the Top 10 for over 58 days in a row

Chloe Smith

More stories from Chloe Smith

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March 10, 2021

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“Avatar: The Last Airbender” breaks records with its Netflix debut in May 2020.

Most of the time when people scroll through Netflix trying to find a new TV show to binge watch, they skip over the titles with cartoon faces that scream, “I’m made for kids!” 

I won’t lie, I’m definitely one of those people. This time, however, I decided to take a chance.

As a kid, I have very vague memories of seeing commercials for “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on TV while sitting on my couch watching Nickelodeon. While I never watched the show regularly growing up, I always thought it was such a fun concept that got my imagination rolling.

“Avatar” was popular among kids when it was first released on Nickelodeon in 2005 and has recently gained a second wind of popularity with its release on Netflix in May of this year. 

I first decided to watch the show after noticing the attention it was getting from other Netflix users. The show remained in Netflix’s top 10 for months after it was first added to its lineup. 

This attention drew me in, and I’m so glad it did, because “Avatar” has become one of my all-time favorite shows.

The show follows Aang, a young airbender, who gets trapped in an iceberg for 100 years and wakes up only to find out he is the last of his people and the world is caught up in war. 

As the Avatar, the only person who can bend (control) all four elements — water, earth, fire and air — it is his responsibility to bring the world back to a time of peace.

The creators of “Avatar,” Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, knew what they were doing when they wrote this show. 

While the show features themes like love and friendship, it also deals with some pretty heavy topics such as genocide, systemic injustice, trauma and abuse.

These topics feel much more relevant to events in the modern world than I care to admit. 

In a Washington Post article written by Kari Sonde, DiMartino discussed the eerie familiarity of “Avatar’s” themes to today’s world.

These have been pervasive issues throughout history and continue to be,” DiMartino said, “The show is a reflection of our world. But now, we happen to be living through a time in which all these problems have been exacerbated.”

Even though these topics are extremely heavy for a show targeted to children, the writers of “Avatar” still found ways to deliver it palatably so people of all ages could enjoy the show. 

“Avatar” is one of those shows that makes me laugh, cry and scream in frustration all in the span of a single episode. It delivers powerful themes and lessons for everyone.

So, to anyone looking for a new show to watch on Netflix, don’t count out the super popular kids show just because it’s targeted to children. 

Give that show a chance and you might just come out on the other side with a new favorite.

Smith can be contacted at [email protected].