Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by KidzVuz for Amazon Studios. All opinions are my own.
Get ready for the Amazon Original Special An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance. The video, based on the popular American Girl dolls line, premieres on Prime Video March 24, 2017 in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria.
This is the show I wish existed during my childhood (which coincidentally took place in the 1970’s like this special). Growing up, I never saw television or film characters who looked like me. I questioned my self-identity and wished I had light hair and eyes like my classmates. I wanted to fit in, and being Chinese American made me different. My self-esteem took a big hit, something I eventually regained during my college years. Had a show like An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance existed, I would have realized others faced the same challenges; I would not have felt so alone. I also would have known earlier on that it was possible to proudly embrace both my Chinese and American heritages.
An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance is set in 1976 San Francisco and tells the story of 10 year old Ivy Ling (Nina Lu, BUNK’D) who struggles with balancing her two cultural identities: Chinese and American. She dreams of being like her Caucasian best friend, Julie Albright (Hannah Nordberg, General Hospital). Her gymnastics tournament and family’s big Chinese New Year celebration take place on the same day. Ivy needs to reevaluate her values and goals to determine which she will attend. The special also stars Gwendoline Yeo (American Crime) and Lance Lim (School of Rock).
Upon previewing the video, my first thought was gratefulness that Ivy was the protagonist. In so many instances, shows and films cast minorities as sidekicks. This video allows Ivy to shine and tell her story while Julie acts as a supporting figure.
My second thought was that the special got a lot of things right in terms of authenticity. From the spot-on Cantonese lines sprinkled in the dialogue to honoring customs, An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance does not gloss over the details.
For example, guests and family members remove their shoes when entering Ivy’s house – an important custom in many Asian cultures. In another instance, Ivy’s family conducts Chinese New Year traditions like cleaning the house to rid of the old and welcome new good luck. The video even shows Ivy and her brother going to Chinese School on the weekend. I attended Chinese School throughout my childhood, and my own daughter currently goes there every Sunday.
Also authentic is the tween angst. Universal themes include ones such as finding one’s own path even when it conflicts with family goals; the desire to fit in; the fear of disappointing parents; and the embarrassment experienced due to parents. Viewers of all backgrounds will be able to relate to aspects of the characters and story line – a trademark of any exceptional programming.
An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance will be available for Prime members to stream using the Amazon Prime Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV and mobile devices, or online at www.amazon.com/originals at no additional cost to their membership. Customers who are not already a Prime member can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. For a list of all Amazon Video compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream.
About American Girl Specials for Prime Video
The first two original American Girl specials for Prime Video, An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win and An American Girl Story – Maryellen 1955: Extraordinary Christmas, were based on the characters Melody Ellison and Maryellen Larkin from the BeForever historical-inspired character line. Both specials are currently available to stream on Prime Video.
An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win recently won several awards. These include a Parents’ Choice Gold Award, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children’s Program, Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs, and a Humanitas Prize in the Children’s Live Action Category.
An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance will be available on Prime Video March 24, 2017 in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria.
Photos and Video courtesy of Amazon Studios