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Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party”

By Jessica Shambora

I have good news for Amy Poehler fans mourning her departure from NBC’s Saturday Night Live, following the birth of son Archie. You may be aware that Poehler is following in Tina Fey’s footsteps, developing a new show for the network from the creators of The Office. But you may not know that Poehler recently made her digital series debut as the co-creator and anchor of Smart Girls at the Party, from ON Networks.

In the weekly series Poehler interviews young girls about their passions, from yoga to gardening to music. The first of eight webisodes launched this week. The series, which “celebrates young girls who bring hope and change to the world by being themselves,” is sponsored by Mattel . This first seven-minute webisode is booked-ended by nostalgic Barbie promos. A branded graphic appears onscreen during the show. Click on it, and you’re whisked away to the Barbie website.

One commenter has already pointed out a disconnect between the show’s message and the unrealistic body image promoted by Barbie dolls. But the majority praised “Smart Girls.” I know I’m not the demo, but I loved the show. It reminded me of the power of being young — free to dream and explore without doubts or self-judgment. Even as Poehler takes her adorable guests quite seriously, her comedic timing shines through. That comedy is what will draw moms along with daughters, sweetening the deal for Mattel and for ON Networks. (With her trademark deadpan delivery, Poehler surveys her guest and the show’s crew: “We save our most serious questions, always, for last. Which do you like better, summer or winter?”)

Austin-based ON Networks produces and distributes an array of shows for kids and grown-ups. The site reveals service-heavy offerings — tips on travel, cooking, and golf. “Lust for Looks,” a series serving up fashion tips for men, still needs a sponsor, as do several of the other programs on the site. Although ON distributes to across the web, mobile and on-demand television, I’m guessing the audience numbers stillaren’t big. But the branding potential for advertisers is a compelling proposition, confirmed by the list of ON’s backers: AT&T , Accel Partners, and Texas-based S3 Ventures and Austin Ventures.

I have just one last question: if Hillary Clinton is indeed appointed Secretary of State, will Poehler bring her Hillary send-up to the Party?