I must admit a huge personal bias in writing this review. I love nature. I love going out to hike and I love exploring. So the fact that reveling in nature is such a huge part of this show means I was always going to love it right off the bat.
Any series that reminds kids, or even older people watching it, that the world around them can be magical place (especially with a little imagination) deserves praise but Craig of the Creek is somehow even more than that.
In the first two episodes we were provided for review, “Itch to Explore” and “You’re It,” Craig of the Creek proved it’s a show with a lot of heart with some very strong lessons that never stops having fun. The first episode in particular contains a very moving message that personal accomplishments should never come before being a good friend and helping others. In fact the greatest personal accomplishment of all is just hanging with your buds.
That message sounds really deep and introspective but it’s delivered with a life or death run through patches of poison ivy. Craig of the Creek never loses that wonderment of being a kid or downplays the joy of being with your friends.
The titular Craig has a ton of heart and cares for everyone around him. Like any young kid he wants to establish his independence from his family but he knows they love him. I adore Craig’s family so much. We don’t see much of them in this episodes but in just two lines his little sister, Jessica, might be my favorite recurring character. That girl is going to take over the world with her stock market knowledge.
Craig’s friend J.P. is super kind, even if he isn’t the brightest kid. You ever have a friend who’s just a little bit in their own world? That’s J.P. but of course his friends love him for it.
Of the main cast I’m most in love with Kelsey, especially since she gets a major focus in the second episode. She’s always monologue as if she’s in an adventure novel and is accompanied by her pet parakeet, Mortimer. We learn that while her dad really cares for her he isn’t around as much as she’d like. That feeling of loneliness manifests in a high stakes game of tag where Kelsey refuses to subject anyone to the isolation of being it.
Again, the show never loses the fun of the situation but isn’t afraid to explore the emotional implications of it. The ultimate lesson, which ties into the first episode, is that, “you don’t have to suffer alone to be a super cool warrior.”
The rest of the creek is filled with fun bit characters I can’t wait to see more of. Within these two episodes the series is already setting up a full world for the characters to inhabit but the real strength of it lies in that it’s grounded in reality. Sure, the kids imaginations run wild but it’s still a place any kid could create even if it’s a city block or a backyard.
Series creators Matt Burnett and Ben Levin are veterans of Steven Universe and while they were able to help create a whole new galaxy for that series to take place in I’m really delighted by their more down to earth world.
They also heavily imbue the series with that millennial humor that many Cartoon Network series, including Steven Universe and OK K.O., have utilized. There’s an amazing bitcoin joke and Craig even says at one point, “I just lost sight of what was important. Not being edgy.” That’s beautiful.
Craig of the Creek is a series that will leave you with a good feeling and make you want to appreciate not only the world around you but also your friends. Just imagine hanging with your buds and laughing. That’s the kind of joy Craig of the Creek will bring you.
Craig of the Creek premieres March 30th at 6:25PM on Cartoon Network and you can watch episodes on the CN app now!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Shamus’ friends are always by his side. Follow him on Twitter!