I Am Frankie
It’s a given that most teenagers feel “out of place” and wonder where and how to fit into high school life, but Frankie Gaines has it tougher than most: She’s an android trying to pass herself off as a normal human teen. Frankie’s creator is so attached to the android that she decides to become Frankie’s de facto mom and smuggles her out of the laboratory and into her family before Frankie is relegated to a “life” of experimentation with a military weapons corp. That’s the premise of I Am Frankie, a live-action Nickelodeon series that premiered in September 2017. (FYI, It’s an English-language retooling of a Nickelodeon Latin America series titled Yo Soy Franky.)
Like most high school newcomers, Frankie struggles to make friends but then manages to find a few. And, like most high school newcomers, Frankie also unwittingly makes a few enemies, particularly with the class “brainiac” Tammy, who resents Frankie’s exceptional intelligence. But it’s not only Tammy who’s out to discover Frankie’s secrets; the head of the lab where Frankie was created wants his android back, and other mysterious entities are after Frankie, too.
In the pilot episode, Frankie enters her new family as a birthday gift to her new human sister Jenny. She enters Sepulveda High School and meets her new classmates, some of whom are kind, some of whom fit the typical “mean girl” template, and one [dreamy teen boy] who sparks heart-pounding human emotions Frankie’s never experienced before. In subsequent episodes, Frankie continues to learn the ways of human teens (for instance, saying, “Uh-huh,” instead of “Yes.”) while her “mom” works to simultaneously protect Frankie while also working out a few haywire circuits after Frankie gets caught in the rain. Things get more complicated when Frankie’s friend Dayton discovers that Frankie is more than just another teen girl. In later episodes, as more of the truth leaks out, others tamper with Frankie’s controls and she is in serious danger of being reprogrammed to be violent – a prospect her enemies are eager to exploit.
Aimed at young viewers ages 6 – 11, the scripts are fairly pedestrian and, for all the intrigue and faux drama, the storylines are easy for young viewers to follow. Alex Hook does a nice job portraying a sensitive, if not understandably robotic, teen. Sets, direction, editing, and special effects blend together effortlessly to demonstrate Frankie’s uncommon abilities. Tween viewers will appreciate Frankie’s sincere efforts to fit into a world inhabited by cliques, crushes, rivals, and rapidly changing emotions, and stay tuned to the serial mystery of who is chasing Frankie, and Frankie’s efforts to elude danger.
I Am Frankie is fun and harmless escapist entertainment that young viewers are likely to find enjoyable.
Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.