We let our kids watch TV. There you have it. I’m a terrible parent and my childrens’ brains are bound to rot from exposure to the idiot box. Oh well. What are you gonna do? I know there are all kinds of theories around TV time for kids, ranging from “no TV ever because we don’t own one and we don’t believe in anything resembling a screen… and for group activities we all knit our own clothes while hugging a tree” …. To the more consumer oriented persona like myself who has no less than 48 internet connected devices in his office at last check. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, I’d like to discuss some of the children’s programming that has become a part of my life. So today I’m going to provide a little review of a few cartoons that have made the rounds in our house.
Let’s begin with the ones that I enjoy… that’s right, I like cartoons. In my opinion, one of the best cartoons that Little Miss currently watches is called Peppa Pig. It’s a British cartoon based around a town full of different animal families. Peppa is the eldest daughter of the pig family, with her younger brother George who’s obsessed with dinosaurs, and her parents, Mommy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa Pig is funny. It’s cute and charming and written quite well for children’s programming. Daddy Pig is a wonderful caricature of the bumbling father who still thinks he’s “quite fit” despite being challenged by bending over. Peppa’s toddler brother George bursts into tears at the drop of a hat and responds to most questions with “dinosaw”. The 30 minute cartoon is really a series of vignettes about childhood and parenting that are very relatable and sometimes laugh out loud funny. It’s well done.
Another solid offering that’s gotten air time in our house is DocMcStuffin’s. Doc is a little girl who fixes toys. Her mother is a doctor and her father is a stay at home dad, not to mention that she’s African American. There’s loads of positive messages here, from the progressive family arrangement, to the aspiring young doctor theme. When I consider all the poor media messages for young girls out there, shows like this one are ok in my book. Even the cartoons of my youth are often full of abysmal subtext when I look back. Take for instance Scooby Doo… you’ve got your two stoner buddies who will do anything for a ‘treat’.. Fred, the dashing white ken doll leader, Thelma the ‘smart’ frumpy girl with glasses who actually solves the crimes.. and Daphne, the trophy hot chick of the bunch who’s always posing with hand on hip. Not exactly the messages that I want my girls to absorb… consciously or no. The only real complaint I have with DocMcStuffins is that they only seemed to make like 10 of them. They now run those episodes on repeat over and over. Little Miss likes them, but you can only watch Doc repair Rescue Rhonda the Helicopter so many times. Yes, this is my life.
So that takes me to a cartoon that I can’t stand anymore. This opinion may ruffle some feathers, but I really hate Dora the Explorer. Now wait a minute you say, there’s tons of positive messages here right? It’s a female lead who goes on adventures, it’s multicultural, it’s super positive right? There’s also like 4000 Dora episodes so variety is great right? No. Wrong. Every Dora episode is EXACTLY the same. EXACTLY THE SAME. Insert Problem Here. Problem must be reached by going past 3 obstacles. Reference annoying ass map character to explain how to get by 3 obstacles. Reach into backpack for magic ‘solve my problem instantly’ object whenever any problem arises. Sing a song referring to the obstacles as we go by them. Tree…River…Berry Hill!!! TREE…RIVER…BERRY HILL!!!… TREE! RIVER! BERRY.. ok just kill me now…
When LM’s older cousins were visiting, they pointed out how creepy it was that the characters stare right at you through the screen. They were right. I never noticed. That’s a tactic to draw in your average 2 year old, but creeps the hell out of me. Also, in my experience, Dora NEVER loses. She never has a problem she can’t reach into her backpack and solve. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not thrilled with that message. Sometimes you lose. Learning how to deal when things don’t go your way is important. Dora and her annoying as hell map always save the day. Always. Now I know this is an archetype kind of character and it’s great that little girls have this kind of super role model, I get that… Maybe it’s because Little Miss watched ONLY Dora for months when she first started watching cartoons… Maybe it’s that stupid ass Map song that haunts my dreams, but I really hate this show. Just sayin.