Eddie’s Lil’ Homies

A little bit of rap, a little bit of diversity and a lot of play in a bright new kid's series from both NITV and Netflix.

Sure, you might learn something watching a series from the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

But there is the reassurance that the driving ambition from ACTF is actually to entertain. Watching TV as a kid shouldn’t be a chore, and shouldn’t always be about lecturing and lesson-learning.

Eddie’s Lil’ Homies is also the first co-commission from NITV and Netflix, two bedpartners that logically should never be seen together.

Betts has written two children’s books drawing upon his own experiences in literacy and racism, and highlighting messages around inclusion, kindness, bullying, the environment, speaking out when you’re sad, helping out elders and First Nations culture.

In addition to their simple but colourful illustrations the books are full of raps and rhymes from the AFL footballer, which makes them ideal as a small screen animation. The short-form series (10x 13 mins) is produced by Highly Spirited with Betts Promotions,  animation by Vishus Productions.

Set predominantly in an inner-Melbourne playground you can see housing commission towers, gum trees and a skate ramp. Here our ragtag pals meet, play and bond.

They are Eddie (Hunter Page-Lochard), Junior (Billy Betts), Lottie (Miah Madden), Tal (Andrew Dang), Shanti (Leela Varghese), Lachie (James Smith) and Decks (Crystal Nguyen).

Representation is important here with First Nations, Asian-Australian and Wheelchair users all happily in the mix alongside a geeky Ranga. All of this is pushed to the background to focus on more daily distractions such as a science talent quest, a Rock Paper Scissors challenge and befriending new puppy.

Even through the colour and big faces of these kids there’s plenty of energy from the cast, giving this life and an Australian vernacular. The audio track subtley places familiar sounds such as the ‘ding ding’ of a city tram or a faint didgeridoo if you’re alert to it.

Eddie also regularly consults with a silent pal in a community medical centre who manages to impart worldly advice without saying a word, all while solving a Rubik’s Cube.

There were moments I found unexpected parallels to the Peanuts world… Shanti barges in with all the bravado of Lucy, and I suppose even ‘The Pyschiatrist is In’ is reflected elsewhere. Does that make Eddie our own Charlie Brown? He’s generally more successful, although episode 3 does sees him snubbed by the new dog… shades of Snoopy?

Nonetheless this world is bright, contemporary and reflecting our diversity without getting preachy. Like that other famous Aussie animation, you’ll enjoy seeing touchstones interspersed in the story, tapping your feet and grateful to have spent time in this playground.

Eddie’s Lil’ Homies screens 7:30pm Friday 16 February on NITV / from midnight on Netflix in Australia and NZ.

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