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Bentkey Offers a Different Vision of Kids' TV

| April 22, 2024 | By

Wonder and adventure are the name of the game on the Bentkey streaming app which was designed to be a place where kids (mainly preschool to seven years old) can be entertained and educated in a fun way.

Parental consent is required to access the service. There are two tiers to the platform. The first is free for limited access. The Adventure Pass is $100 annually for full features, extra episodes, and more.

Bentkey's offerings are ad-free, kid-centric, family-friendly, and aim to promote traditional values. But, unlike kid service Minno and the kid content on PureFlix, this isn't all about Jesus.


Bentkey wants to “transport kids into a world of adventure, imagination and joy.” And based on a quick look at its content so far, it succeeds—and teaches some solid values along the way. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t a Christian organization, these aren’t Christian shows, and you’ll still probably need to have a conversation with your kids about what they’re consuming and why.

All this, though, isn't to say that what Bentkey offers lacks value. But first ...

Who's Behind Bentkey, and What Is Its Mission?

Bentkey is a creation of The Daily Wire, a conservative media site headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. It was created in response to parental concerns about "progressive" political and social messaging finding its way into children's programming.

But, it appears that Bentkey is not just trying to do the opposite. From left-leaning site Slate, which reviewed Bentkey's offerings in Oct. 2023, shortly after the service launched:

For though I strove mightily to find political messaging in Bentkey’s lineup, I must admit that [Daily Wire CEO Jeremy] Boreing’s assertion that “Bentkey isn’t about teaching kids politics” is more or less correct. Some of the shows, not all, may be square or retrogressive, but none is overtly political. 

As Bentkey is new, the original programming is limited. Filling out the service are a variety of acquisitions, including animation produced in Europe. These shows have a different, gentler tone than much of American kid animation, and apparently that's a good thing.

A reviewer at conservative news site The Federalist observed about the European shows:

They have lovely pacing, less likely to induce anxiety and frenzy in children, and quality visuals. “Ernest and Celestine,” for example, brings to video a French children’s book series from the 1980s. It’s the precious story of a bear and mouse who live together and love music and drawing.

The line-drawn animation and folk and classical music styles inhabiting the series are a clear cut above American cartoons’ usual trash visuals and pop music that deform young children’s developing artistic tastes. Ernest adopted Celestine — after finding her in the garbage! — and it is delightful to see a quality father figure at the center of a children’s story.

Here is a small sample of what Bentkey offers, both originals and acquisitions:

A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay (Bentkey original)

This show is definitely a modern version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mabel interacts with puppets (mainly her dog Jasper) as well as other humans as she demonstrates crafts and how to create fun projects. Katy Chase is Mabel, a perky and positive woman. Besides crafting, Mabel takes the viewers on excursions to discover new things, places, and people.

The show is the creation of Katy and husband Ryan, parents of three children, who have both acted and run an improv school for children in Los Angeles.

In an article on Christian Post:

"A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay" embraces a deliberate pace, devoid of quick cuts and flashy distractions, designed to guide young viewers rather than overwhelm them.

The show intentionally has Mabel speak calmly and not talk down to kids.

Said the Christian Post: “She doesn't, for example, pause to explain big words, trusting that young viewers will keep up.”

And from CatholicMom:

Free from political ideologies or hidden agendas, A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay invites a child to gaze upon the world with wonder, curiosity, and enjoyment. Furthermore, although this is not explicitly a Christian show, the episodes can easily guide parents and children into deeper conversations about God, the Faith, and the necessity of virtue. 


Chip Chilla (Bentkey original)

The animated series Chip Chilla centers on a chinchilla family, consisting of Chip, his older sister Charla, and the young baby Chibbly. Dad Chum Chum (voiced by Rob Schneider) and mom Chinny homeschool their kids.

Each episode is an exciting lesson where the parents take learning to the next level by making the lessons interactive.

Along with the family pet ladybug named Bug, the family has plenty of adventures together while the kids are being educated. They recreate the first moon landing in their backyard, and, in another episode they learn about journalism, comparing what is news to what is gossip.

Even though they often compete, the sibling love and family bond comes through.

According to Catholic Review:

“The show, which premiered in October, embraces the importance of family and loving one another.” Schneider, who converted to Catholicism, told the publication, "it’s been a couple of years already since we’ve been working on this,” he said.

“It really was during the height of the pandemic where you had a real shutdown in Hollywood, not just physically but ideologically. And it became kind of the height of where entertainment was indoctrinating people — and especially the family — into some ideas that were antithetical to what entertainment, I think, should be.”


Gus Plus Us (Bentkey original)

Puppets Gus, a big blue creature, and Karrot, an orange (what else?) creature, share plenty of adventures with their human friend Lucy. They explore places and learn about life, honesty, and friendship. The creatures are sweet, childlike and endearing.


Louie & Yoko Build (French, also available on other platforms)

This animated show is filled with imagination. With a magic toolbox, Louie (a rabbit) and Yoko (a ladybug) work together to build things that help others and sometimes themselves.

When an ostrich is frustrated that she cannot fly (ostriches don’t fly), the pair build an airplane to take her up into the sky so she can enjoy the feeling of flight. That’s just one example of their empathy and helpfulness.


Other Shows

More animated, puppet, and human shows, as well as the BYUtv four-episode The Canterville Ghost (reviewed here) are part of this service, with a new original film, Snow White & the Evil Queen, coming later this year.

Having sampled several shows, I can say I have enjoyed them from an adult reviewer perspective. To me this is a fun -- and safe -- place for kids, and parents can feel comfortable letting their children access the app.

So, Bentkey offers one more service that you can plop the littles in front of, without fear -- even if discussions of faith might have to come from somewhere else.

Investigate Bentkey here.


Image: Chip Chilla/Bentkey

Francine Brokaw is a longtime journalist, covering entertainment, product reviews and travel, and is the host of Beyond the Red Carpet on Village Television and YouTube.

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