Netflix’s Newest Series Features a Middle Schooler With Social Anxiety Disorder

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Netflix has been churning out its original content at lightning speed, but its newest kids' series, The Healing Powers of Dude, is a particularly exciting release. The family comedy, season one of which is available to stream now, centers around Noah, an 11-year-old boy with social anxiety disorder who's about to start middle school. To help him cope with the overwhelming transition, his parents get him an emotional support dog named Dude (voiced by Steve Zahn). Although Noah can't hear Dude, the dog helps him in various ways as he attempts to navigate the middle school years.

"While on the surface The Healing Powers of Dude may seem like a classic 'underdog' story, it's so much more!" reads a press release from Netflix. "A recent study completed by the Geena Davis Institute . . . showed that less than 1 [percent] of leading characters depicted on children's television have a physical, mental, or communication disability. The series is based on the personal experiences of husband and wife creators Sam Littenberg-Weisberg and Erica Spates who approached the show with some humor to communicate the tougher moments to children and families and devised a visual language to demonstrate to kids how Noah might be feeling in a way they could more easily relate to (like a crowded middle school hallway appearing like a pack zombies coming after Noah!)."

But the series doesn't just focus on Noah's social anxiety disorder. "The series addresses both internal and external disabilities and how people can prejudge. With the casting of Sophie Kim as Amara, Noah's tough and sarcastic best friend, the creative team wanted to ensure they cast someone who knew what this experience was like and could authentically represent her experience on screen. Despite the challenges the character of Amara is faced with, she is an incredibly confident, talented, smart, and funny character who has no fear."

Get an exclusive peek above at the first trailer for the series, which you can watch with your kids now on Netflix (and hopefully, there will be a season two so we can get even more of Noah and Dude!).