There are few references to religion in “Tuttle Twins,” a new cartoon from the studio that produced the hit Jesus show “The Chosen” about time-traveling siblings who learn free-market principles.
But the first episode of the kids’ show, which debuted Tuesday night, does make mention of God as the “origin of all laws” when 11-year olds Ethan and Emily Tuttle pay a visit to Frédéric Bastiat through their Cuban grandmother’s time-traveling wheelchair.
Daniel Harmon, showrunner for the Angel Studios-distributed animated series, said that’s by design in a show that seeks to reach beyond the White conservative bubble where most Christian children’s programming languishes while big studios cash in on the wider market.
“I’m trying to reach other parents like me who love freedom and want to pass free-market principles down to their kids,” Mr. Harmon told The Washington Times. “These principles aren’t limited to any particular religious group, but we’re not seeing much about the Golden Rule, personal freedom and entrepreneurship in public schools or mainstream entertainment today.”
“For me, the show is pro-freedom, and that appeals to people regardless of whether they believe that our rights come from God,” Mr. Harmon said.
He said he hopes the 12-episode first season, distributed biweekly on Tuesdays via the studio’s Angel App, will launch “a long game” for the franchise as the only animated show that teaches children about economics.
“Our goal is to reach 100 million kids over the next 10 years and help them fall in love with the characters. We want kids to choose us as an alternative to Netflix, Disney+ and other apps,” Mr. Harmon said.
His brother Jeffrey Harmon, cofounder and chief content officer at Angel Studios, added that the upstart crowdfunding company embraced the project because it filled “a clear hole in the market” for quality animated entertainment to teach free-market values to kids whose families “aren’t being served by woke executives in Hollywood.”
“The show is about preaching values in a positive way rather than attacking other peoples’ ideologies,” he said. “With ‘Tuttle Twins,’ we want to teach our kids and their parents about the economic principles that made this country the most prosperous and peaceful society the world has ever seen.”
Launched a year ago, the “Tuttle Twins” campaign became the world’s largest crowdfunded kids’ media project at that time, raising nearly $3.7 million from more than 8,000 investors.
The show adapts a popular series of 21 “The Tuttle Twins” books that have sold more than 3 million copies. They include 12 titles in the children’s series, three toddler books and six books for teenagers.
Author Connor Boyack, who serves as co-executive producer of the animated series, said sales of his books “exploded during the pandemic,” expanding the franchise into a curriculum, card game and podcast. That set the scene for Angel Studios to step in.
“Our show is an effort to evangelize not a religion, but a set of political and economic values about freedom,” Mr. Boyack said. “As the author, I think those messages are complementary, but I think people of little or no faith will connect.”
The author, who based some of the twins’ personalities on his own two children, expressed satisfaction with the decision of the show’s writers to introduce fantasy elements like time travel and “interdimensional silliness that involves the kids as intergalactic pirates,” a departure from the reality-based books.
“The books are primarily educational and a little entertaining. The cartoon flips the format to be primarily entertaining and a little educational,” Mr. Boyack said.
Founder and president of the free-market-oriented Libertas Institute in Utah, he said he wrote the first book for kids aged five to 11 in 2014 as a way of teaching personal responsibility to his young children. He recruited Elijah Stanfield, a coworker, as illustrator.
“Basically, I’m a full-time freedom fighter advocating for smaller government, and I wanted to be able to talk to a five-year-old about the principles of free markets and property rights,” Mr. Boyac