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Unicorn Academy

Unicorn Academy season 1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Lauren Cook

TV Series Review

Teenager Sophia really only wants two things: to ride horses and to be left alone.

Ever since her father’s death, she’s found more comfort with the horses on her family’s ranch than with people. “Friends are overrated,” she tells her loving (and worried) mother. “I’m more of a likeably rebellious loner with a love for adventure that drives her mom nuts.”

But it’s that love for adventure that makes her so much like her dad—and that earns her an invitation to mysterious riding school Nuncior Academy.

It doesn’t take long for Sophia to realize this is no ordinary school. “Nuncior Academy” is actually Unicorn Academy, where spirited students are chosen to become unicorn riders and protect the school’s magical island from the dark forces that want to destroy it. And before long, Sophia discovers that has a much deeper connection with the school than she thought; as it turns out, her dad was a famous rider who sacrificed himself to save the island five years ago.

If Sophia is going to live up to her legendary family name, it’s going to take a lot more than a rebellious streak. She’ll have to bond with her unicorn, unlock her own magic, compete with a few rival students, and potentially stop an evil witch from destroying the world.

It might even require making a few friends.

SAVED BY THE SPELL

Based on the children’s book series of the same name, Unicorn Academy is a fantastical adventure for any kid who’s ever dreamed of fairies, magic, or riding a flying boat to school. Bright colors and glitter-covered excitement fill this Netflix series, along with themes of friendship and teamwork. Sophia is able to overcome her fear of getting close to people in order to bond with her classmates, and she has a great relationship with her mother, who supports her daughter as she chases her dreams.

But then again, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on Unicorn Island. The evil Ravenzella—the witch I mentioned—plots revenge for her defeat five years ago, and Sophia and her friends battle her “grim magic” to defend the school. No real violence or injury occurs during these fights, but younger viewers may be frightened by Ravenzella’s threatening appearance, as well as some perilous situations she creates for our heroes.

Parents should also be aware of thematic issues that run throughout Unicorn Academy.

Magic is, of course, very heavily present, though it doesn’t seem to have any spiritual connections, and the unicorn riders use it to protect their friends and fight back against evil.

The core theme of the series, however, deals very openly with “fate” and “destiny.” Sophia sings a song about feeling the call of fate, evoking images of “the winds of change” and other mysterious forces. “The light burning inside of me/Is this what they call destiny?” she wonders. “Fate fairies” guide Sophia and her friends at school, and students are encouraged to “follow their hearts” in order to bond with their unicorns. These questionable themes are repeated constantly; even the song in the closing credits tells viewers to “trust in your destiny.”

Sophia’s rebellious attitude isn’t always admirable, either. At home on the ranch, she disobeys her mother several times, rarely receiving punishment. Even at Unicorn Academy, Sophia breaks the rules by going out of bounds to find her unicorn, and while she’s initially expelled for her behavior, the punishment is almost immediately revoked. “Sometimes rules are meant to be broken,” a teacher tells her with a wink.

There’s plenty of exciting, family-friendly adventure to be found here, but parents should be aware of some problematic messages before sending their child off to Unicorn Academy.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 2, 2023 – S1, E1: “Unicorn Academy”

Adventure-loving teen Sophia arrives at Unicorn Academy, where she’ll learn to become a unicorn rider and protect the world’s magic. She and her new friends, however, quickly discover an evil witch’s plot to destroy the island, and they must work together to defend their new school.

Sophia has a knack for rebellion, and she sneaks out with her horse despite her mother’s rules. She’s caught and grounded for it, but goes out again anyway, and this time Sophia isn’t disciplined for it. She’s even rewarded for disobeying her teachers and going past the designated wall at school, as it leads to her meeting her “destined” unicorn.

Sophia sings a song about following her heart to find her destiny, and “fate fairies” guide the students at Unicorn Academy, from assigning their dorms to leading them to their unicorns. “Fate” and “destiny” are recurring themes throughout the episode; Sophia tells her unicorn, Wildstar “you are my destiny.”

Our heroes get themselves into a few scary situations during their adventures. While crossing a large chasm, the bridge gives way, and Sophia and her two friends Layla and Ava hang over the pit from a magical rope. Ravenzella, an evil witch once defeated by Sophia’s father, sings a song about breaking free to destroy Unicorn Island. Her crocodiles made of rock and crystal snap at Sophia and her friends. The unicorn riders fight Ravenzella’s grim magic with magic of their own, using fire, weather, ice, water and light to protect their school from shadow monsters. This battle isn’t violent by any means; none of our heroes are hurt, and the evil creatures are easily defeated.

Sophia sometimes wears a shirt that shows her midriff. Her prank-loving friend Rory puts a pair of heart-covered boxer shorts on a unicorn statue, infuriating one of their teachers. Sophia steps in unicorn poop in the woods; we hear a squelching sound, but nothing is seen. Rory confidently promises to “kick this guy’s butt,” referring to one of Ravenzella’s shadow monsters.

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

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