Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where are your parents?!

Kids' television shows are weird.

I've written before about the annoying need for all kids' shows to teach something. More strange, though, is the bizarre characters and plots out there. For some reason, since they're wrapped up in a shiny package with catchy songs and flashy graphics we don't pay too much attention to this. I started thinking about it, though, and it's pretty disturbing. Let me show you what I mean. Here is a rundown of the basic plots of some of the more popular shows out there for children:

- Dora the Explorer: A young girl spends her days in the company of her best friend, a talking monkey. They use a magical backpack and map to go on adventures with no adult supervision. They encounter snakes, crocodiles, and fierce storms. Their foe is a weasel that steals from little children.

- Go Diego Go: Dora's cousin Diego also has an animal best friend--a jaguar. Super safe. He, his sister and the jaguar traipse around rescuing wild animals from precarious positions, including imminent destruction by predators.

- Wonder Pets: A baby duck, a turtle and a guinea pig escape from their cages in a classroom to fly around the world in a homemade boat/airplane in order to save animals and occasionally plants. These rescues are usually from more benign emergencies than Diego's--a dog that can't get outside to relieve himself, a plant that can't get water. About three quarters of the dialog is sung instead of spoken, though to no particular tune and certainly not following any rhyme or song pattern.

- Toot and Puddle: Let's take a minute and just examine the freakiness of the name alone on this one. Yeah. Toot and Puddle are two pigs of an undetermined age who enjoy traveling the world and absorbing the culture. And their names are Toot and Puddle.

- Blues Clues: A man in his 20s lives with a dog and a talking salt and pepper shaker, nightstand, mailbox, and various other talking household items. They don't really do much besides talk.

- Special Agent Oso: Oso is a panda bear that goes on missions to help children figure out how to do basic tasks. So, for example, a little girl will be in her back yard to water her flowers, and the bear will drop out of the sky and help her figure out how the watering can works. I'm a grown woman and that would freak me out, but apparently a 5 year old would think nothing of it.

There are plenty of others, but you get the picture. What in the world are these writers thinking? Well, I guess they're thinking that these plots are gold mines, because that's exactly what they are. Kids eat this stuff up like candy. It's fine with me, I guess, as long as Ethan doesn't start asking for a jaguar or talking to the salt shaker.


Purple Cow said...

Well in Australia where I grew up in the Seventies I remember "Bill and Ted" - two men living together. I don't much remember the educational value of this show but there were some strange potplants called the "whip its" that would jump out like jack in the boxes and cry out "Whip it!" Eventually this show was axed because of the gay connotations of the two leads. Mind you, a great deal has been said of the Teletubbies and the religious implications embedded in the show...

Strange indeed...

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Wonder Pets. Ugh. Isaac is completely into Shawn the Sheep right now. I have no idea where he learned it, I have never watched it, but Michael has. They don't talk during the show as far as I can tell. He laughs hysterically through the whole thing. I think it's like cartoon/animal Three Stooges or something. I, personally, like the PBS shows -- Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train (my fave), and Word Girl. For a while, Word Girl was Isaac's favorite show. Now, Shawn the Freaking Sheep . . .

Oh well, better than Barney -- thank Goodness he does not like Barney!


Sarah said...

We are on a Muppets kick. I couldn't be happier.