Aired on: Cartoon Network
Current status: Completed
NOTE: This is for the original Teen Titans, not the recent Teen Titans Go!
Teen Titans is a children’s television show that aired in the 2000s, and was very popular in its day, and remains a positive childhood memory of many of its viewers. The show itself is generally innocent, although sometimes it contains allegories to more mature topics. First: content. The IMDB content summary for this show is very brief, and contains what you would expect from a superhero themed show (action, cartoon violence). It mentions that two characters kiss a few times: this is inaccurate (I believe there is only one kissing scene in the television show) although there is one in the animated film Teen Titans in Tokyo, which takes place after the conclusion of the series (since that is pretty much just a long episode, I have just included it in my review). There is one innuendo in one episode: one of the characters, who goes by the name of Starfire, is flying above the ground with a thick sweater on, and there is a one-eyed teenage villain with mechanical glasses on, and he mentions that he has x-ray vision and Starfire immediately covers her chest. Other than that, the only other drawback to the show in that respect is the way that the female characters dress, which I will address in their biographies.
The plotline of this show is very simple: there are five teen superheroes living together in a large building who fight crime and keep their city safe. Each season has its own plotline, and all of them are very engaging. There are two kinds of episodes: plot episodes and filler episodes. There are five to six plot episodes per season, and the rest are all standalones. The exception is season 5, where almost all of the episodes are tied into the plotline one way or another.
Robin. Young, brash, sometimes arrogant, the leader of the Teen Titans is a hero with surprising complexity for a children’s show. A skilled martial artist, he leads the team with the battle cry of “Teen Titans, GO!” As far as characterization goes, Robin is generally regarded as the second best hero of the squadron, with the first season centered around him in a complex plotline. He has times where he is faced with leadership decisions that are difficult, and sometimes he makes the right choices, sometimes not. However, when he makes a wrong decision, he learns from his mistake.
Cyborg is literally a cyborg: half human, half machine. An accident (no details are provided as to its nature), left him injured beyond normal medicinal cures, and he was infused with robotic technology to keep him alive. He is now the fun-loving, cannon-firing, car-driving technology expert of the group, designing the base’s security and building contraptions. The plotline of the third season centers around him, which is easily the weakest plotline of the show. But it is by no means bad. Episodes that center around him usually are about him struggling with his humanity: is he human or machine? The episodes are sometimes good quality, sometimes not so much. His fun demeanor is something that remains through the show, as he charges into battle with the excited cry of “Booyah!”
Starfire’s demeanor is one of innocence to the world of mankind: she is a tamaranian (an alien from another planet), who arrived on Earth somehow: we are not told the specifics of how she arrived until the fifth season. Her power is to shoot starbolts out of her hands, and, later on in the show, her eyes, that deal damage to enemies. The only problem I found with the character, as you can see by the two images posted, is that she is dressed skimpily, her stomach showing in nearly every episode. For the first episodes, it drove me crazy, because this is a KIDS show and she is dressed immodestly, inspiring her fangirls to dress the same. However, she is not nearly as bad as Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars, so that’s something I guess. But the show’s main drawback is definitely the modesty of the female characters: even minor ones are often not dressed adequately. An interesting thing about the character is that while she has multiple episodes centered around her, none of the season plotlines put her in a more important position than any others.
Beast boy is, with Cyborg, one of the comic relief characters of the show: he cracks jokes and has an amusing, energetic character throughout the show. However, he is my personal third favorite character, because of how they take the comic relief character and make some of the more heavy episodes centered around him. He has two seasons where he is not the main character, but he is the most important of the Titans: season 2 and season 5. In season 2, he meets a girl who he obviously likes and who obviously likes him back, and they begin to develop a relationship. They hold hands, but no kissing ever occurs between the two characters. However, he teaches a good lesson: it’s okay to be funny and energetic, but there are times when you have to act your age and be mature. His power is the ability to transform into any animal he can think of.
I like to save the best for last, and it is nearly unanimously agreed that Raven is the best character in this show; the most well written, the one with the most engaging plotline, and the one with the most character development. She has two potential drawbacks to her character: the entire show, her costume is a leotard covered by a blue cloak. However, her legs are entirely exposed in almost every episode. In one episode, an event occurs that rips her costume, exposing her stomach for a few minutes. The other is that her character is portrayed as a “goth”, she dresses in dark black and blue, and has an air of darkness around her throughout the show. She likes to be alone with her books, and she gains her power through magic (a critical viewer could draw connections to witchcraft, as she gives a cry of “Azarath Mentrion Zinthos!” We learn that Azarath is the world on which Raven was born, but the other two words are never defined. You can draw your own conclusions; I tend to think that the similarity was unintentional). The only concern I would have with showing my child this show in Raven’s case is the gothic attitude; I wouldn’t want my daughter to take Raven up as a rolemodel, because she is so closed off to the other characters and just has a dark demeanor. However, Raven’s faults are overshadowed easily by how well written she is, and the fantastic plotline that centers around her in season 4. I tend to think that Raven is the writer’s voice coming out, sometimes remarking on a plot convenience, showing us that the writer’s noticed it too, or making a sarcastic joke that you can’t help but laugh at. Season 4 is the most mature season: Raven’s origins are revealed, and the plotline takes you through an epic series of events that end in a three part episode called “The End”. It is a complex, extremely engaging plotline that can be enjoyed by youngsters who don’t quite realize the gravity of the situation, and their parents or older siblings. She is the main character of all of the episodes, and, as she is the most powerful of the Teen Titans, she gets to unleash herself more than she has in any other episode, and believe me, it is EPIC.
Slade is the main villain of the Teen Titans series, although comic book fans know him better by the name of Deathstroke. I won’t say much about him, but I will say this: whenever there is a mature plotline, or one that is heavy and emotional and dark, he is probably involved. A fantastic villain, he is easily my personal second favorite of the show. One of the most disturbing images of the show involves him: I won’t tell you where or when (you’ll know it when you see it). If you’re reading this to see if it is appropriate for your child, Google it: you’ll find the image easily.
For all its faults, Teen Titans is one of the best animated children’s shows out there. While there are better (most of the better ones being other DC animated cartoons), it is certainly one of the best I have ever seen. It is funny and lighthearted, with the capacity to be mature and dark in a captivating way. I highly recommend it, for college kids with nothing better to do that never watched as children, and for adults to watch with their children. Enjoy!
Age Rating: 12+
Quality Rating: 7/10