Children’s television has come a long way since the 1970’s when I was the intended primary audience. Not only do kids today have many more choices of programming, but the programming itself is more socially and educationally nutritious.
Back in the day (I try to use this phrase as often as possible…even when I just mean “like two weeks ago”) we had the choice of either groovy ‘70s fare like The Electric Company or vaguely racist and completely violent tales of survival of the fittest like Tom and Jerry or Coyote/Road-Runner. “Hey kids, drop anvils on each other!”
Today my kids watch shows that teach them to read, count, recycle, celebrate diversity, mix their denim and treat their peers and adults with respect. Before you shout, “BO-RING!”, I submit to you that there is some stuff worth watching amidst the trite crap.
Even still, your kids should probably watch no more than five hours of TV per day, even if you’re totally hungover (videos on tablets, phones or laptops don’t count toward this total). To help you make the most of that time, here’s the BAC Guide to Children’s Television, #1:
SHOWS I LIKE
Yo Gabba-Gabba!: The trippiest of kids’ TV, Yo Gabba Gabba features an orange-onesie-clad DJ, a big, red Gumbi-looking cyclopse (as seen on the Kia Sorrenta commercial), and a whole cast of other freakshow monsters who sing, dance and drop-knowledge on the kiddos. I’m wouldn’t say for sure that the creators of this show are drug-addled freaks, but I wouldn’t say that they’re not. The show is silly fun, features a beat-boxin’ Biz Markie and myriad celebrity cameos, including The Office’s (US) Angela Kinsey who is way too hot for Dwight Schrute…not that I think about that stuff while watching TV with my sweet, beautiful children.
Peppa Pig: The Pig family snort a lot. Just that fact makes it fun to watch with the kids, and it also makes me feel better about my hardcore snoring (yes, I’ve been tested for sleep apnea, but thanks for your concern). Peppa is a little girl pig whose antics and interactions serve as the basis for this otherwise absurd series. Her dad is lazy and hugely fat, as all dads are supposed to be. Also, her little brother has a sweet toy dinosaur.
Pocoyo: This Spanish CGI-animated series is super cool and accompanied by a groovy musical score. The version we get is narrated with the help of English actor and comedian Stephen Fry who speaks, well, English. It follows the adventures of niño Pocoyo and his friends: a pink Elephant and a duck who wears a hat like Heisenberg’s on Breaking Bad (Note: Breaking Bad is not a good show to watch with children under 8 years-old. For 8+, it’s totally okay. Hey, a kid’s gotta learn how the world works). Pocoyo is the best show I can get my kids to watch.
Caillou: Caillou has a great imagination! And so would you if you were a bald four-year old who looks like Charlie Runkle. Hey, a kid’s go to have his defense mechanisms. I’m sorry for being critical of a child (albeit an imaginary one), but the incessant morality and niceness of the whole thing just gets irritating. Truth is his lumpy mom and dad need to lay off the Tim Horton’s and hit a Zumba class. The only more annoying Canadian export than Caillou is Nickelback.
WonderPets: A guinea pig in rain gear, a baby duck with pilots’ goggles and a turtle in a sailor’s hat. Hey – it’s the adorable baby animal version of The Village People! The furry YMCA crew speak with cute lisps and save other animals who are stupid enough to get stuck in trees or under rosebushes (whatever happened to natural selection?). I don’t know what it is about this show, but WonderPets makes me hungry for roasted rodents, broiled baby amphibian (or whatever a turtle is) and sauteed duckling with celery.
Curious George (PBSKids): So there’s nothing out-of-the ordinary about a 6’ 5” guy who dresses head-to-toe in canary yellow and has a pet monkey, but I call absolute bullshit on him being able get that monkey past his (let’s call it) New York City co-op board. I do my best to suspend disbelief when watching children’s television, but this is asking too much. That shit only happens on Friends.
Dora The Explorer: Dora and her pet monkey, Boots, have done more to get young boys speaking Spanish than anyone except for Sofia Vergara. But while Dora helps break down stereotypes about simian-owning Latinas, she absolutely shits on trolls (all of whom are grumpy and old) and foxes (who are apparently all sneaky, thieving bastards).
Ni Hao, Kai-Lan: If you don’t think Latinos are losing jobs to the Chinese, I ask you to explain Kai-Lan, Dora’s nemesis from the East. Kai-Lan grows up in a bi-lingual household (just like Dora), breaks the fourth wall to teach lessons to her young audience (just like Dora) and even has a (you guessed it) monkey friend. She obviously has less respect for Dora than she does for intellectual property. If Kai-Lan don’t watch it, Dora gonna cut her ass.
Next Time: BluesClues – a guide to fashion crimes of the late 1990’s (see also “Cargo pants” and “rugby shirts”)