Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Time Shift Your TV – Burka Avenger

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Just a few weeks ago, the 73rd annual Peabody Awards winners were announced. The awards are given annually for excellence in storytelling in electronic media.

Popular TV shows including House of Cards, Scandal, Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black and Broadchurch were among those recognized this year as being among the best. Documentaries on topics including schools, poverty, war, Bangladesh and the Boston Marathon bombings were also given awards.

One show is worth noting to parents. It’s Burka Avenger.

Lately, thanks to Hunger Games and other popular movies, there’s been a lot of discussion about female role models in the media and what they represent and teach young girls.

The Peabodys describe Burka Avenger, a Pakistani-produced television program, as “smart, colorful and provocative,” one that “sends a clear message about female empowerment” to a new generation.

The storyline is that by day, Jiya is a mild-mannered teacher and by night she takes on bad guys. Her weapons? Pens and books.

The Urdu-language series stirred up controversy when it first aired last year. Created by Pakistani pop singer Aaron Haroon Rashid, the animated series was meant to send a strong social messages to kids, but also offer laughter, action and adventure, as Rashid explained to AP at the time.

But there were some who didn’t like the fact that the heroine wore a burka, an outfit viewed as a sign of oppression by the Taliban, who forced women to wear burkas when they took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s. Rashid argued that the burka served as a mask, much like Spider-Man and instead fought oppression.

Time Magazine named the heroine of the show one of the 11 Most Influential Fictional Characters of 2013. And The Washington Post said she made Disney princesses look “downright antiquated.”

The show is well-worth checking out. You can watch Episode 1 on the Peabody website (with English subtitles) or at BurkaAvenger.com. She literally throws a book at two men who steal a goat. And she must stop other evildoers who want to shut down a girls’ school because they think, after all, girls should be at home doing the wash and cooking.

“Don’t let anyone stop you from gaining knowledge,” Burka Avenger urges boys and girls. “Make books and pens your best friends.”

The animation, music and storylines are intriguing and infectious. The message, obviously, is excellent.