Young Einsteins in power: these are the best series about child prodigies | Viewing guide

TVOn Friday Streamz will present the latest documentary ‘Laurent, the child prodigy’. It examines the life of the Belgian-Dutch gifted Laurent, who obtained his master’s degree in quantum physics summa cum laude at the age of twelve. However, wondrous whiz kids, wisecracking smarts and other brilliantly wired block beasts are not a rare phenomenon on your TV screen. From a Ugandan chess prodigy in ‘Queen of Katwe’ on Disney+ to the widely gifted and renowned wizard ‘Harry Potter’ on Streamz. These clever cobblestones quiz you effortlessly under the table.

‘Gifted’ (Disney+)

Gifted but also frail, that’s Mary Adler, a seven-year-old girl who shows signs of extraordinary math skills. The young genius is raised by her uncle Frank (played by Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans) after her equally brilliant mother commits suicide. While Frank is busy giving Mary as normal a life as possible, Mary’s grandmother thinks otherwise and wants to exploit her granddaughter’s talents for her own benefit. This results in a bitter custody battle between the two. This tear-jerking drama from Marc Webb has been praised by critics for its impressive cast and truthful portrayal of family conflicts, and has easily increased its modest $7 million box office budget sixfold. Talk about a mathematical miracle!

‘Matilda’ (Netflix)

She could speak perfectly after 18 months, after 3 years she could read and after 5 years she could multiply numbers with double digits. If anyone is top of the class, it’s Matilda. Like Laurent, Matilda also cannot explain why she is so gifted. She just is. This 1996 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book tells the story of an extremely gifted Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson), who grows up in a dysfunctional family with an aloof, immoral father (played by Danny DeVito, who also directed the film) and a selfish, binge-addicted mother. The biggest bully, however, is Principal Agatha Trunchbull. When Matilda realizes she possesses the miraculous power of telekinesis, she starts hitting back at all the bullies in her life, including her unkind parents.

‘Queen of Katwe’ (Disney+)

Were you completely blown away by ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix? Then you urgently need to discover ‘Queen of Katwe’ on Disney+. This 2016 award-winning film starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyongo tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a nine-year-old girl growing up in the slums of Uganda, East Africa, who accidentally discovered the sport of chess. When she starts to hone her technique more and more, she is seized by the chess bug and participates in international tournaments that send her to the absolute world top. An inspiring formula that tells the typical ‘zero to hero’ story, but at the same time lands with the viewer in a refreshing way. Thanks to the magnetic renditions of newcomers such as Madina Nalwanga (Phiona) and the lamented Nikita Pearl Waligwa (Gloria), who died suddenly in 2020 from the effects of a brain tumor.

Fuller House (Netflix)

In the vein of ‘Young Sheldon’, the series about the handsome childhood of Sheldon Cooper from ‘The Big Bang Theory’, the follow-up show to ‘Full House’ also has a character in its ranks that deserves its own spin-off, more specifically Max. This precocious, intelligent young lad is the second son of the oldest Tanner daughter DJ and steals every scene he appears in. A scientific genius, he likes to dress in plaid shirts and, like Sheldon, carries a briefcase to school instead of a backpack. He is neat and tidy and likes to poke fun at others who are less intelligent than him. For fans of ‘Full House’, the show is a pleasant reunion with some of the key figures from the nostalgic sitcom, including ‘Uncle Jesse’ (John Stamos), Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) and even the annoying girl next door Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber).

‘Harry Potter’ (Streamz)

One story that still appeals to many bright youngsters is the adventures of Harry Potter. The film series based on the books by JK Rowling may be very close to the fantasy genre, but it contains many reflections of giftedness, as well as themes with which gifted children can identify. Because Harry is also different and does not fit in, but he is destined to develop his talents and do great things with them. He’s not the only one who hangs together with brilliant bolts, by the way. His schoolmates are also unusually gifted to a greater or lesser extent, and we’d even venture to say that the perfectionist bookworm Hermione Granger is the franchise’s biggest smartass. Not counting Albus Dumbledore, of course.

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