‘Project Mc²’: Smart Is the New Cool

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This month there’s a new Netflix Original Series about geeky girls: Project Mc². It’s targeted at tween girls and is intended to make STEM a bit more popular. I sat down and watched the first season (just three episodes) with my daughters to find out if it works.

First, a quick overview: McKeyla McAlister (the “Mc²” of the title) is an agent for NOV8 (pronounced “innovate”), a secret organization of smart women. Her current mission involves protecting a British prince, a billionaire tourist who’s not known for making great decisions. But she gets noticed by Adrienne, Bryden, and Camryn, the three smartest girls in school, and they’re soon mixed up in the plot. Danica McKellar also appears in the show as The Quail, head of NOV8.

Project Mc2
Ysa Penarejo (Camryn), Genneya Walton (Bryden), and Victoria Vida (Adrienne) do a little spying of their own. Image: Netflix

The show is rated Y7, and based on my kids’ reaction, I think they’ve hit their target audience on the nose. The show is a little corny, but it’s very cute, and my kids loved the idea of teenagers being real spies. McKeyla is all business (and a little socially awkward), but the other three each have their own areas of expertise: culinary chemistry, online wizardry, and gadget inventing. While I thought the hacking is about on a par with most other depictions in pop culture (that is to say, a fast bit of typing and “I’m in!”), the chemistry looked real and the gadgets were feasible. (One episode even featured a banana piano a la Makey Makey, though the interface wasn’t quite the same.)

The show depicts the girls as smart and cool. They’re adorably dorky and my daughters (8 and 11) were both immediately enamored with them. I’m not sure the admiration would hold up for high schoolers, but the show really isn’t written for older kids. The plot isn’t groundbreaking–new kids show up and want to be spies, get put to the test and make mistakes, get a second chance and save the day–but it is fun to see girls in these roles, doing geeky things and still being feminine. And it doesn’t hurt that the cast is racially diverse, too.

In conjunction with the show, MGA Entertainment has a line of dolls and toys that include actual science experiments. For instance, build a working lava lamp with the McKeyla doll, or make Adrienne‘s erupting volcano. I haven’t gotten to see the dolls in person, but I recognize the outfits from the episodes we watched and my kids would get a kick out of them.

Project Mc² may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely a hit in our household and I hope there’s another season in the works. The three short episodes are more like an origin story and encompass a single mission, so we want to find out what happens next.

Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream Team and have been provided with Netflix access for review purposes, but opinions expressed are my own.

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