Set in 1960s New York when the original book was published, Harriet the Spy follows the outspoken and perpetually curious 11-year-old Harriet M. Welsch. More than anything, Harriet wants to be a writer, and in order to be a good writer, she’ll need to know everything. And to know everything means she’ll need to spy … on everyone! Produced by The Jim Henson Company, the animated series stars acclaimed actor Beanie Feldstein as Harriet, a fiercely independent and adventurous 11-year-old girl, alongside Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch as Ole Golly, Harriet’s larger-than-life, no-nonsense nanny. The first half of the series (five episodes) debuts on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 19, 2021, and the second half will return with additional episodes in spring 2022. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “A sweet series bringing back to life a classic character, Apple TV+’s Harriet the Spy is a fun watch, though its animation doesn’t break any barriers. Each episode of Harriet the Spy has a nuanced lesson – finding comfort in isolation, discovering yourself, and setting boundaries are just a few examples.” See his full review below.
Harriet the Spy
By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15
A sweet series bringing back to life a classic character, Apple TV+’s Harriet the Spy is a fun watch, though its animation doesn’t break any barriers.
Harriet the Spy follows 11-year-old Harriet M. Welch (Beanie Feldstein), the same wannabe spy popularized by Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 books. She’s a normal kid, attending a prep school with her friends in an indeterminate time without cell phones and with nannies wearing tight updos. What sets Harriet apart from her classmates, though, is that she embarks upon unique espionage adventures across New York City in a quest to become the best writer and best spy ever. It is unfortunate that only one of the five episodes in the first season deals directly with spying. Regardless, Harriet’s adventures are enjoyable in their sheer otherworldliness. For example, she uses a dumbwaiter to spy on a weary aristocrat.
Feldstein’s voice acting provides the series with a warm tone, and most of the humor springs from her dialogue. There are also a few comedy Easter eggs thrown in there – see if you can catch one in episode 2! The animation is clean and colorful, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. There are lots of hand-drawn lines with an emphasis on natural movement. I wish the animation team had tried something out of the box for Harriet, who truly is an out-of-the-box kind of gal. The show is easy to digest, and very addicting — each of the five episodes in season 1 is 20 to 25 minutes long, and you won’t be able to stop watching!
Each episode of Harriet the Spy has a nuanced lesson – finding comfort in isolation, discovering yourself, and setting boundaries are just a few examples.
I give Harriet the Spy 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. The first five episodes aired on November 19, 2021 and five more will air in Spring, 2022.