New TV show puts smart girls in spotlight
"Yes, it's true. Women do run the world." That's what the head of a females-only spy agency tells four schoolgirl recruits in "Project Mc2." It's a new series for tweens on Netflix.
But spinning reality isn't the show's intent. Instead, it seeks to inspire girls. It wants them to do the math and realize they are capable of succeeding in the fields of science and technology. These fields are often made up of mostly men.
That lofty goal is wrapped in the lively and goofy fun of "Project Mc2." The show is about four girls. They join forces with intelligence chief The Quail. She is played by actress Danica McKellar. She was on a show called "The Wonder Years." McKellar is a real-life math whiz. She is also an author.
The three-episode "Project Mc2," is available Aug. 7. It will be on Netflix in the United States. It can also bee seen in 50-plus other countries. The young teenage spies are smart. They are stylish. And they are far from social geeks. The audience they want to reach are viewers age 7 to 12. That's the so-called "tween" age group. A second season is planned.
"It's really aspirational," said executive producer Shauna Phelan. "It shows you can be smart and cool. You can be smart and funny. You can be smart and stylish. And those things are not mutually exclusive in an individual."
"It would be amazing if we had a younger age group look at these girls and realize, 'I love these super-smart girls and I want to be like them,'" Phelan said.
Consider it a pop culture support to school efforts to engage girls and young women in the subject areas known by the abbreviation "STEM." That is short for science, technology, engineering and math.
The series' diverse cast includes Victoria Vida, Genneya Walton, Ysa Penarejo and Mika Abdalla. They are the intrepid quartet called on to rescue a royal. But it's not a princess.
"Our damsel in distress is a prince. He's on a civilian flight to space. So we flipped the standard there, where we have four smart girls saving the boy," Phelan said.
For McKellar, "Project Mc2" adds up to a passion project. She has a bachelor's degree in math.
"This is what I want girls to see more of. Instead of imagining, 'I'm one of these vapid models I see on the covers of magazines. Or reality stars,'" McKellar said. She'd like kids to see themselves walking down Wall Street in "4-inch heels and going to a high-powered job."
"Being smart means you're in control of your life," she said.
Entertainment is the show's first goal. But an expert was brought in to make sure the science the young agents dabble in is correct, Phelan said. Writer Jordana Arkin went one better. She checked the show's spying angles with a friend who's ex-CIA.
The action and the science are lighthearted. In one scene, the girls dust for fingerprints with a special mixture. It's made from kitchen ingredients.
"Project Mc2" offers something else for tweens. It's an ongoing story. It isn't stand-alone episodes.
"They can even binge-watch," Phelan said.