New year, new website! I finally decided to give WordPress a try, and I’m pretty happy with the results.
And what better way to kick off a new site design than by mocking my kids’ choices of TV programs?!
Now before you go off on me for missing stinkers like Barney, Teletubbies, or The Wiggles, let me just say that I built this list purely from my own experience, based on what my kids watch (and have watched).
Parents of young kids will sympathize. The rest of you can sit back and enjoy learning a few things about kids’ programming in 2017.
#7 – Backyardigans
So we’ve got a moose, penguin, hippo, kangaroo, and some pink bug-like creature living in five separate houses with a shared backyard. They all emerge from home at the same time everyday to partake in an LSD trip of epic proportions, whereby they interact with each other in their joint fantasy creations.
That’s the stuff that makes sense.
Years of watching this show have left me with some real head-scratchers:
- When has a Hippo ever been the same size as a penguin?
- Who the heck pauses in the middle of a race for their lives in order to sing a song?
- Are they seriously filling the “minority quota” with a moose and penguin named Tyrone and Pablo? Seriously?
- Where are the parents?? Is this why they snack on s’mores and cookies at the end of every hallucination?
- What in the world is Uniqua supposed to be??*
*I looked it up. She’s called a… uniqua. Yep! They made up an animal. I guess they couldn’t think of any others…?
Now don’t get me wrong… After a couple years of pre-school shows, the Backyardigans were a breath of fresh air. But the breath turned stale. I’m over them. Luckily, my kids are too.
#6 – Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse
I can appreciate what the creators of the show were trying to do here. Barbie has gotten a bad rap over the years because of the “ideals” she’s been teaching young girls (i.e., keep your waist small, your standards high, and your closet full and you can achieve anything).
Unfortunately TV’s latest incarnation hasn’t improved on much… Barbie still lives a life of luxury in a dream mansion with her sisters.
She talks frequently about her long list of careers, although most of her time on the show is spent on leisure activities.
She has two boys chasing her (both complete doorknobs), multiple well-groomed pets, endless kitchen gadgets, and a massive closet run by a ridiculous (but sometimes funny) robot eyeball.
The show is the definition of shallow, but I’ll give it this: the creators are not afraid to mock the over-the-top nature of their own franchise. For this reason, and some mildly entertaining moments with Ken and the closet robot, Barbie comes in as one of our least annoying on the list.
#5 – Horrid Henry
From the land of knights, James Bond, and afternoon tea comes a show about a British boy who embodies the absolute worst in every child.
Henry is selfish, whiny, loud, violent, boastful, greedy, thoughtless, and is juuuuuust maybe a future serial killer.
Henry is… well… horrid.
He’s the kid you keep your kid away from at all costs; the one who forces you to make up excuses when his parents call you up to arrange a play date.
With the exception of some very rare displays of human emotion, and the odd decision to not let his brother die (yet), Henry has no redeeming qualities. Even worse, his whiny, ineffective parents feed right into it by actually calling him horrid at every turn and worshipping his over-perfect younger brother!
Worst hero of a kids’ TV show. Ever. And I get to enjoy him in ADHD-tailored 10 minute episodes on Netflix auto-play? Pass!
The theme song is kind of cool, though…
#4 – Winx Club
Sailor Moon meets Harry Potter in the most confusing kids’ show I’ve ever not watched.
There are so many painful things about this show, I’m not even sure where to begin…
- The wardrobes. These young, animated, cartoon stick figure ladies are borderline call-girlesque. They attend a (supposedly) super prestigious school for fairies, and wield all this awesome magical power, and yet they walk around dressed like it’s Hallowe’en night on a university campus. Good message.
- The dialogue. Awkward, confusing, stunted… Half the words are made up, and the other half consist of failed jokes followed by giggling.
- The characters. Each girl fits into her neat little stereotype: the shopper, the techie, the artsy one, etc. As amazing and powerful as they might be one moment, they fall into a puddle when the cute blonde boy with the flying motorcycle comes around.
I could go on… The music is dreary, the editing is terrible, the stories are dull. My daughter loved it for a solid 6 months (at least), though, so it must have something going for it.
Perhaps the pseudo grown-up dialogue is just enough to reel kids in for a while and make them feel like they’re watching something of substance.
Or maybe they just like hearing their parents groan when it comes on.
#3 – Bo on the Go!
Hey, Bo buddies!! What could possibly be better than a TV show that gets your kid off the couch and exercising along with its main character?
How about watching said show with said kid at 5:30 AM, half-asleep, and being prodded every three minutes to join in on the fun?!
Do I even need to mention the irony of putting your children in front of the TV to get them to exercise?
Bo, I know you mean well… and I know your super peppy voice, your crazy world of magic, and your ultra bright colours are exactly what sucks kids in… but if you ask me to help you charge that G.D. bracelet one more time, I’m going to stuff those abnormal blue pigtails right up your nose!
#2 – Dora the Explorer
Dora and her monkey pal Boots set off on a “new” adventure every episode, solving problems and facing challenges on their way to their final destination.
Okay, listen… I know that repetition has an important place in teaching things to kids. It’s just that, as a parent, must I really suffer through a show where EVERY EPISODE IS THE SAME? Every one!!
River… Forest… GRANDMA’S HOUSE
Rock… Hill… FARM
Dunes… Meadow… LAKE
We get it!! They overcome two obstacles and then safely arrive at their destination. Yes, we know. Lovely formula. Bravo.
Also awesome? The talking backpack who makes you answer trivia questions before Dora can pull HER crap out.
If I had a magic, talking backpack, you’d better believe it would be answering MY questions.
But the best part has to be when the map shows up to talk like Woody Allen and sing the least original song in all of human creation.
This dude is the kids’ equivalent of that really annoying guy who hangs around you and your friends… You’re constantly finding ways to avoid him, and the only time you call him up is when you really need him for something. You occasionally find him amusing when you’re really drunk and he bursts into the party yelling crazy stuff like, “Hey guys, I’m the MAAAAAAP!”
I was done with Dora after about three episodes. And then my only joy in watching it with my kids came from cheering for Swiper (aka. “The Slowest Fox on Earth”) when he robbed that condescending 8 year-old girl.
#1 – Caillou
I know I’m not alone here. Not even close. The whiny, bald kid has been tops on parents’ most hated lists for a loooong time.
There’s even a hashtag! #ihatecaillou
There’s just something about the tone of that voice. It drills into your brain and hibernates. I haven’t watched the show for years, but I can still recall his high-pitched, over-pronounced complaints with perfect accuracy.
Go ahead and try it yourself. It’s eerie how easily it comes back.
It’s almost like the writers were running a social experiment: “Hey, let’s see how effed up we can make this kid look and sound before people stop watching!”
Well people are still watching. As humans, I think we’re willing to withstand a little torture if we can make fun of something later on. For example, this gem of a revision to the opening song (our friend clued us in): “I’m just a whiny kid, I’m just a whiny kid, I’m so annoying, I’m Caiiiiiillou…”
But perhaps the most annoying thing about Caillou: he’s bald. That in itself isn’t annoying! Heck maybe he’s a cancer patient, or dealing with alopecia, right?
Here’s an explanation from the creators:
Caillou was initially created as a baby of nine months. When it was time for him to get older, the addition of hair made him unrecognizable. So we decided that Caillou would never have any hair, and he went on to become popular as a little boy who is bald. Caillou’s baldness may make him different, but we hope it helps children understand that being different isn’t just okay, it’s normal
Sooooo… you were too lazy to make normal human development “work” in your show. Huh. Alright…
I mean… yeah, teaching kids that being different is normal is great. But do you know what goes hand-in-hand with that, and is equally great? Understanding why! Otherwise we’re just teaching our kids ignorance. Sheesh.
As long as producers of kids’ TV shows continue to cater to the extremes of personality, sound, and social trends, there will be plenty of material for columns like this one.
I’ve been pretty lucky as a whole. My kids usually come around to better quality shows over time, and without too much nudging from us.
Besides… today’s poor choices are just tomorrow’s canon fodder for parents who love to embarrass their kids!