Just Add Surprise
I don’t remember why my daughter and I decided to check out the Amazon original series Just Add Magic, but I remember that I didn’t expect much. It was, after all, a live-action kids’ show (strike one!) with a cast of unknowns (strike two!) and a premise that promised the saccharine “every episode ends with an obvious life lesson” kiss of death (strike three!).
I didn’t expect much. But I was surprised by how much the show delivered.
The premise is that a trio of tween-age girls finds a magical cook book that lets them cast spells by cooking food. Their cooking creates as many problems as it solves, and they often learn lessons about family and friendship along the way.
Okay, that sounds pretty… um… yeah. Not great. You can see why I had such low expectations.
But the show delivers. The friendship at its heart is real; I can believe that these girls are life-long friends. They squabble and get jealous of each other, but at the end of the day, their love and loyalty win out–and not just because we need a “valuable lesson” at the end of 22 minutes. The family relationships are likewise real. We don’t have wacky idiot sitcom parents, but actual loving, competent parents who might be flawed but are clearly doing their best.
If the relationships are the heart of Just Add Magic, the titular magic is its soul. Over the course of the two seasons, the girls (and through them, the audience) discover the deeper mysteries of the cook book, its history, and how it ties into the secrets of their small town. While the episodes all stand on their own, each one peels away a layer of the greater mystery, and my daughter and I often found ourselves agreeing to “just one more” when the end credits rolled.
That said, it is a kids’ show starring kids. For some people, that’s enough to take it out of the streaming queue right there. And that’s fine. But if you’re willing to engage with it on that level, I totally recommend checking it out on Amazon.