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Brainchild Review 2018 TV-Show Series Cast Crew Online
Creator: Adam ‘Tex’ Davis
Review: Brainchild, Netflix’s new kids science series, is the good kind of social experiment.Brainchild is produced by Pharrell Williams and created by the same team that brought us Nat Geo’s Brain Games; it’s a great way for kids and their parents to learn some things they might not have known via thought experiments that are designed to be interactive. At different points during the show, Sahana will ask the audience to make a choice among a group, and then they can see if their choice matched the results of the experiment or quiz that’s given. In the social media episode, for instance, the multiple choice is given to show why the “humblebrag” is actually disliked more than a post or video that straight-out brags.
What we like about the show is that it refuses to talk down to its audience. Preteens and teens in 2018 don’t need to have things spelled out to them, especially because they have the world at their fingertips via their smartphones. It also has a great sense of humor, as we noticed when comedian Judah Friedlander appeared in the first episode as a guy who carries around all the functions that a smartphone does.
Both of the show’s regulars, Srinivasan and Ward, are personable and do a fine job of connecting with the intended audience, and each episode moves by quickly. Even if an episode centers around a topic you know a lot about — in the germ episode, for instance, they talk about the 5-second rule via people dropping donuts at Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall and seeing who eats them — the experiments around them are entertaining enough that you want to watch, anyway.
The show is produced by the same company behind National Geographic’s Brain Games, but it’s more comedic. Brainchild better recalls the interactive challenges of HBO’s ’80s kids show Braingames. A companion to Netflix’s recent Bill Nye revamp, and another entry in its growing explainer genre (Follow This, Explained), the 13-episode Brainchild covers topics like space, creativity, memory, and germs. Pharrell Williams served as executive producer, giving input on creative decisions despite not taking much of a hands-on approach on set, according to host Sahana Srinivasan. (He appears in the “Space” episode, asking NASA astronauts about the most “awe-inspiring” thing they’ve seen up there.)
Pharrell’s touch is subtle, and Brainchild is more than just aesthetic. In the aughts, TV science shows have essentially become YouTube shows, and while Brainchild has that vlog feel, it also sets itself apart with representation. Srinivasan, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Texas at Austin, auditioned for the series by simply setting up a camera in her apartment and recording, vlog style. Innovation Nation‘s Alie Ward stars alongside Srinivasan as the “science friend” who adds her own expertise about different topics in each episode, but also asks more questions.
A Netflix show where two women talk about science provides a nice buffer to science series like Bill Nye Saves the World and Adam Ruins Everything, and popular YouTube science shows like Vsauce and AsapSCIENCE. But Srinivasan says it goes even deeper than that. “In the STEM and STEAM fields, there’s a lack of representation of women, and we’re hoping that shows like this will inspire young women to go into science fields,” she says. “But also, people of color and Indian women, too. I’ve had people reach out to me on Instagram and say, ‘It’s really cool to see representation and to see myself on the screen.’ Also for acting, too. Not just science.”
But the show isn’t just about someone explaining things to the audience and spewing statistics. It consists of thought experiments that really illuminate how and why our brains think a certain way. For instance, in one experiment, a photo with millions of likes and one with only a few is shown to kids and adults, and they’re supposed to pick which they like the best. Then the pictures are switched, and the results are surprising but not shocking. Some of the concepts are explained by the show’s “Science Friend,” Alie Ward (who kids may know from her appearances on CBS’ Innovation Nation).
In another experiment, two groups of teens are shown a YouTube video of a girl singing an overwrought song. One group is told that they may have to read the feedback to the singer, the other group is told their comments would remain anonymous. It doesn’t take a genius to know what happened next.
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