Carmen Sandiego: Robber and Role Model

We live in an age of reboots and remakes. Most leave something to be desired. Childhood nostalgia has been exploited left and right for quick money, even from Hollywood itself. Bad CGI, needless “edgy” and convoluted new plots, and remakes literally no one asked for are just some reasons why live-action remakes (“cough” Disney) flop both commercially and critically.

One reboot, however, captured my attention the way no other reboot of an older show has ever had before. The quality of this show is as elusive and wonderful as the eponymous heroine herself—Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego

I find this show to be criminally (ha) ignored by Netflix’s radar, despite much to be praised about it. Every scene is meticulously and beautifully animated in a unique lineless art style that creates a wonderfully arresting viewing experience. The backdrops of beautiful locations around the world complement the equally attractive characters.

Right from the start, Carmen Sandiego makes sure to inform the viewer of the rich histories and artifacts of the location she happens to be in, much like her 1991 show’s original counterpart. From Japan to Botswana to Italy, she and her companions waste no time in highlighting the beauty of each and every location she graces.

Characters are the heart of a story, and they need to be neatly crafted in order for it to work. Luckily for Carmen Sandiego, the main cast does not slack in that department either. The care and effort that the crew puts into designing each and every character shines through even with background characters, which make for vibrant and iconic character models to watch every episode. With an excellent cast of Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez to Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, the voice actors ensure that personalities are equally dynamic, memorable, and investing.

Plot-wise, Carmen Sandiego can and will steal everything, from dinosaur bones to statues to even the Magna Carta, seemingly invincible against the law. Nothing, it seems, can stop her.

Sounds evil, right?

Except she’s not. There are many lessons from Carmen Sandiego, but the first one reveals itself immediately: nothing is as it seems. In-universe, Carmen is thought of as an evil thief by law enforcement while we, the audience, know she is anything but. Edge of your seat action combined with compelling twists are sure to keep you invested in the gripping tale from start to finish. 

With a rich plot, intriguing characters, and a devotion to portraying the world accurately and positively, Carmen Sandiego is truly a reboot for the ages. The lady in red reminds us every episode that it is our job, no matter where we come from, to stand up against injustice. While we can’t all be notorious super-thieves, we can certainly be supporters of education and solidarity, allowing us to take up our own red hats wherever we may be.