Baymax! Series: Jeanine’s Review
Now out on Disney+ is the latest vehicle for the world’s cutest healthcare companion, Baymax!
This new series of six ~8 minute episodes revolves around the earnest and adorable inflatable robot Baymax from the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2014 feature film Big Hero 6. Programmed to activate at the first sign of illness or injury, Baymax is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic scanners, exhaustive medical databases, and an apparently endless supply of lollipops. Upon diagnosing a problem (often with surprisingly medically-accurate terminology,) Baymax pursues the resolution of it with unwavering persistence, only able to shut off after being given the verbal feedback “I am satisfied with my care.”
At first glance, it seems as if it would be difficult to make a compelling story featuring Baymax who, for all of his kawaii charm, has no real emotions and fairly limited expressiveness. As in Big Hero 6 however, the creators wisely use Baymax as more of a catalyst and a mirror for his patients’ stories–his straightforward approach to life and health, completely lacking in any artifice or tact, cuts through the many layers of emotional and psychological scar tissue everyone has grown around them, opening them up to the possibility of healing.
While the short run-time for each episode generally keeps the storytelling focused and incisive, some are more effective than others. The episode with Aunt Cass constantly trying to evade Baymax’s prescribed activity restrictions probably suffers the most from repetition. “Kiko,” on the other hand, is remarkably touching as Baymax helps the solitary elderly woman come to terms with her hip pain and its etiology. It does seem a bit amusingly defiant that two other episodes feature topics such as menstruation, which some found outrageous when touched upon in Turning Red, and same-sex relationships, which some (probably the same people) found outrageous in Lightyear. Both issues are treated here with maturity and sensitivity as if they were simply the natural aspects of people’s lives that they are.
Unlike the action-packed Big Hero 6, Baymax! foregoes the superhero aspect of Baymax’s existence and keeps him solidly grounded in his role of medical professional. Ironically, the thing that would have been the most unbelievable element of the series is the idea that people would react to healthcare that is both freely offered and urgently needed with fear and refusal, but the last couple of years have shown us otherwise. The fact that by the end of the series, all the characters have combined into their own team of 6 to work towards a common goal shows us that people need not be Big or Heroes to help others and be a force for good. Baymax, who is always logical and science-based, never cruel or judgemental or dismissive, is the healthcare provider we all wish we had in these times and is a wonderful role model for viewers of all ages.
Baymax! is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.