Alexa & Katie, the show about best friends, family, high school...
But don’t let that last word scare you away. Alexa & Katie manages to find the possibility of joy at every turn despite the c-word.
Perhaps that’s because, at the start of the series, Alexa is at the end of her chemo, although there are occasional flashbacks to her diagnosis and her months of treatment.
Alexa's course of chemotherapy is done, and her prognosis is good, but, as anyone who has battled cancer and survived knows, even when you’re declared cancer-free, the effects linger on both physically and emotionally.
The first season begins as Alexa must deal with her hair falling out just as she’s cleared to start high school.
Imagine being a teenage girl about to walk into your first day of high school without hair!
But in many ways, Alexa is lucky. Not only has she had good medical care and a loving family, but she also has Katie.
Katie is her best friend, and she takes that role seriously. She’s there for Alexa in ways no one else could be, and it will make you both laugh out loud and bring you to tears.
This is the best friend relationship you’ve probably always wanted and never had, and if you have had it, count your blessings.
Alexa & Katie is about rebuilding your life after cancer, but it’s also about the joys and stresses of simply being a teenager.
Some of that has to do with schoolwork, friends, frenemies, boyfriends, basketball games and school plays, but it also goes deeper than that.
Where Alexa has struggled with cancer, she’s also been blessed with loving parents who both have careers that assure money isn’t a problem.
Katie, on the other hand, has a wonderful mom but a dad who is MIA most of the time which means finances are a bigger issue.
Where Alexa’s family can afford to spend thousands to throw a lavish sweet 16 party, and who wouldn’t want to celebrate that especially after their kid has battled cancer, Katie scrambles to find a job so she can scrape together enough money to pay for a school trip she knows her mom can’t afford.
By Alexa & Katie Season 3, both girls are enjoying their junior year of high school, but that doesn’t mean life is all sunshine and lollipops.
Every step of Alexa’s recovery means trying to let go of the constant concern about her cancer returning, and the memories of her treatment that pop up at inopportune times.
That proves difficult for both Alexa and her parents, who do a wonderful job of being upbeat even when they’re terrified.
But even when Alexa believes she can finally move on from cancer, she learns it's not something she can outrun, such as when she's handed a giant binder with her medical history that she'll need to share with every new doctor in her hopefully long and healthy future.
Katie’s worries are different, and perhaps more relatable to many.
She wants to go to college with her best friend, but she knows she’ll need to get a scholarship to make it happen. So she’s desperately trying to juggle good grades, an SAT study group, acting in the school play, and her after school job.
Even when you have an amazing best friend, anxiety can overwhelm you.
Overall, Alexa & Katie is a happy and entertaining show with a good heart that manages to deal with serious issues without getting bogged down by them.
Netflix recommends it for kids eight and up, and I agree with that assessment.
There’s no real cursing (the occasional “crap” or “sucks” aside), and no sexual themes or violence. Watching it with my daughter has led to some interesting conversations about cancer, friends, and high school.
But don’t think of this as simply a kids show because Alexa & Katie is a great family show.
It doesn’t take much to fall in love with the lead characters played by Paris Berelc and Isabel May or Tiffani Thiessen as Alexa’s mom.
And for those who remember Thiessen as Kelly Kapowski from the '90s hit Saved By the Bell, there's that bit of nostalgia in watching her now play the mom to a high school student.
Even characters like Alexa’s Dad, Dave, her brother, Lucas, and Katie’s brother, Jack, whom I wasn’t in love with on Alexa & Katie Season 1, have found a place in my heart by Season 3.
My only major complaint is that Netflix only gave us eight episodes for Season 3, and that's just not enough!
My biggest fear for Alexa and Katie isn’t Alexa’s cancer coming back or Katie not being able to follow Alexa to the same college but that Netflix, who can be quick to cancel its series, might not give it a fourth season.
This is a little show with a big heart, and I desperately want it to keep going with far more episodes than the eight that Netflix offered for the third season.
So log on and check it out. It’s a show the entire family can watch and enjoy, and those can be hard to come by.
I promise you, if you give Alexa and Katie a chance, it will make your smile.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.