The hit children’s show “Annedroids” is one of the most popular programs not only for kids but on Amazon Prime. Thanks to this hit show, children of all ages around the world are aspiring to be like Anne, the kid scientist who builds androids in her junk yard.
Season 4 of “Annedroids” premieres tomorrow (Friday, March 3rd, 2017) on Amazon Prime, and the show’s creator J.J. Johnson joined me for an interview this week to discuss what fans can expect this season, the secret to creating children’s programming that is not only entertaining but educational too, how the show is inspiring young girls and boys and much more.
Candace Rose: Season 4 of your hit show, “Annedroids” premieres on Friday, March 3rd. Can you tell us about the show and what fans can expect this season?
J.J. Johnson: “The show is about a little girl named Anne who is a kid scientist who builds androids in her junk yard – a junk yard that she lives in with her father. In the first episode of season one, Anne along with two friends that she meets (who live in houses just beside the junk yard) bring to life her most humanoid android creations which is a character named Pal. Basically over the course of those four seasons we watch as Pal becomes its own kind of being, and that really culminates in this fourth season. Anne has to learn to let Pal go a little bit, and also Pal makes a decision of whether Pal wants to be a boy or a girl. A lot of things happen in this finale season.”
Candace Rose: What do you think the secret is behind “Annedroids” popularity?
J.J. Johnson: “I don’t know entirely. We really believe that kids are way more sophisticated than we give them credit for, and so the storylines in this show deal with really big issues and big concepts. We don’t shy away from anything. Also, I know that kids live really big emotional lives, and then we try to treat that as honestly as we possibly can.
We talk a lot about gender diversity on shows. I don’t know if we talk enough about economic diversity. I did not grow up the most wealthy, and the only show I can think of as a kid that really reflected my life was “Roseanne.” I’ve tried to bring some of that into the show where the kids aren’t wealthy. We have different family structures. We have divorced parents, we have a parent that has lost her job in the first episode and that money is an issue because it was certainly an issue for me growing up. That’s never the dominant storyline, it’s certainly something in there to make the characters that much more relatable and through that relatability, I think that much more believable.”
Candace Rose: What’s the key to creating a successful children’s program that is not only entertaining but educational too?
J.J. Johnson: “Good question! I always hit a show wanting to excite, entertain and educate (in that order). I think you need a concept that’s going to be infinitely watchable. I think it needs to be entertaining. There has to be humor. Life is full of humor. But life is also full of drama, and so you want to try to find a blend between the two. I believe that having a little educational underpinning or something to take away is what makes you want to go back to a show. I think about shows that I like to watch as an adult – things like ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘CSI’, and those give you a glimpse into a world that you’re not aware of. I would say those are as educational as ‘Annedroids’ is. We’re giving you a glimpse into science concepts but we’re doing it in a way that’s both dramatic and funny.”
Candace Rose: Why is it so important to teach children about science at an early age?
J.J. Johnson: “I think what I love about making shows for kids in general is opportunity to spark something that might last them their entire lives, and I think particularly for girls, they don’t see a lot of scientist lead characters that are girls, there just aren’t that many out there. Germany which airs the show actually just did a study that looked at opinions of girls before and after the show. They asked girls what they wanted to be before they watched two episodes and it was your classic, I want to be a princess or an actress or a singer or famous. Then after watching the show, there was something like a 30% increase in girls that wanted to be scientists and study robotics and engineering. That’s entirely what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to show that it’s as exciting as everything else and that it’s something that we need more girls to participate in.”
Candace Rose: It’s so amazing that your show is having such an impact on young girls.
J.J. Johnson: “It makes it worth the struggle, truthfully. The other thing that study did was look at boys views of girls before and after watching ‘Annedroids’, and it was a similar trend. Boys before did not think that girls could do those types of jobs and then afterwards a marked difference in their perspective on girls. I think it’s a two headed battle ahead that girls need to see characters – kids do need to see it to be it. When they see these kinds of empowering characters it lets them know that it’s totally possible. For boys it’s important for them to see a dynamic strong girl character who is the leader, but that is also surrounded by a diverse group of kids that are helping her solve problems that she comes up against, and in turn she’s helping them. Those are certainly some of the messages that we’re hoping to push with the show.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional information that you would like to share with us?
J.J. Johnson: “Season 4 which is our finale season comes out Friday, March 3rd. The previous three seasons are already up on Amazon Prime, so for fans of the show please tune into season 4. For new people please check out the first episode.”