Second Step: Homeroom
Getting to Know You
Lord of the Bus
Middle School Musical
House Party of Horrors
I’ll Be Right Here
One of the reasons Netflix has done as well as it has is thanks to the sheer amount of diversity on the streaming platform. From blockbuster films and foreign horror series through to animated classics and teen dramas, Netflix has managed to sink its teeth into seemingly every genre and tailored its material for almost every age group. The Healing Powers of Dude is a feel-good, easily digestible tweenage drama, one that utilizes all the usual tropes and ideas you’d expect in a Disney Channel production and adds some surrealistic elements, a talking dog and a social anxiety disorder to mix things up. The result is something that feels a little basic and messy but ultimately does just enough to serve as an okay option for the younger generation to digest.
At the heart of this story lies Noah, a young boy about to start middle school and suffering from a serious dose of social anxiety. After his doting parents give him an emotional support dog called Dude for help, Noah teams up with new friends Simon and Amara to tackle all the challenges school throws at him. Most episodes serve as stand-alone plots as Noah takes on a different challenging public issue each time, ranging from riding the bus to speaking infront of the class. Dude is usually used as the light comic relief during these times, talking constantly about food or throwing a cheesy joke in the fold but his inclusion is actually one of the weakest parts of the series.
As the episodes tick by, Noah finds himself confronting his love interest Valerie, which brings a whole range of issues to the fold. There’s also some family sub-plots back home that ultimately act as padding to prevent the series feeling too basic. Noah’s Dad for example finds his love for art restored while Noah’s growing independence sees his Mum lean heavily on his younger sister Embry instead. Dude also has an ongoing feud with the Principal and there’s some drama with the next door neighbours too. It’s a good enough distraction but a far cry from the dynamic of something like Atypical or Modern Family where each story has its own purpose in the plot.
All of this builds up to the penultimate episode where the series throws in some unnecessary love triangles before the finale, which resolves a lot of the big plot threads but also leaves things wide open for a second season.
Where The Healing Powers of Dude does well though is with its surrealist imagery. Whether it be fantasy creatures sitting on the school bus or Noah finding the voice in his head turning to an unhelpful sat nav infront of Valerie, all of these moments heighten Noah’s social anxiety and make things all that more exaggerated.
Toward the end of the season there’s a consistent progression for his character which is good to see but if I’m honest, Amara and Simon don’t get as much attention which is a bit of a shame. It’s certainly not helped that Simon is written as a more obnoxious version of Manny from Modern Family and the few moments his character opens up aren’t enough to turn the tide of annoyance his character is likely to garner.
At the end of the day, this is a show written for tweens and as a 31 year old male, I am most certainly not the target demographic. Having said that, the show feels very frantic and haphazard with its various subplots and Amara’s character, who is by far the scene stealer of the season, is given a pretty rough ordeal toward the end. I won’t spoil anything of course but this, combined with the half-baked way this one is left hanging for a second season, make this more disappointing than it should. Dude’s constant cut-aways as the wise-cracking, food-asking dog are not funny and I doubt kids will find it that humorous either.
It’s certainly not a bad show by any stretch of the imagination but it’s a big far cry from classics like Recess and That’s So Raven that will ultimately feel much more rewarding for that demographic to watch.
|The Healing Powers Of Dude is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|