And this is the post in which I blow all of my credibility as a) a parent and b) a person of reasonable intelligence and reasonableness. The problem with children’s shows is that they are made by insane adults. I believe that if the adults aren’t insane to start with, the process of creating television for children is either so soul-scorching or brain atrophying that it results in irreversible damage.
Since I am a bad mother, my kid watches a bunch of TV. Or at least is in the room while it’s on. Sometimes she watches, sometimes we color, play with blocks, stalk the cats, play with trucks, knock down towers made of blocks… It started just a few months in, I’m ashamed to admit. Well shy of the two years the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends before a kid is exposed to television. What can I say, she wakes up super early. So when I got to the end of my fatigue rope, I discovered that she’d sit next to me relatively quietly for the duration of Wow Wow Wubsy while I fell asleep for a much-needed extra 20 minutes.
It snowballed from there, but I’ve got it under better control now. A statement you will believe exactly not at all when you read the following.
The Official Nutgraf Review of Children’s Television Programming
The Fresh Beat Band: Apparently going to “Music School” consists of treating all of your classmates like backup dancers to your neverending performance, conducting acts of awkward choreography and waking up in one another’s clothes. Actually, I went to Oberlin and that sounds about right. Wholesome, repetitive, perky and they should all be tied into a big bag of hammers and dropped into the deep end of the ocean. I will never forgive them for the fact that I sometimes have their songs in my head in the shower.
Oswald: An enormous, blue octopus. There is something sinister about Oswald’s world. They’re all just a little too perky. They cannot conceal the terror that lies beneath the surface. It’s like that Twilight Zone where the family is SO HAPPY until you discover that the little boy is holding them all hostage with his mind powers.
Jack’s Big Music Show: Yes, yes and more yes. I love this show. It’s cute, amusing, colorful and totally douche-less. Some of the grownups are a little creepy, but I’ll give that a pass since they’re all talking to a bunch of multicolored puppets.
The Backyardigans: Has surprisingly sophisticated music. I love the premise and the characters. The stories are inventive and adorable. A+.
Blues Clues: Can be hit or miss. I like both hosts (there’s an old and a new one), and think the concept is cute. Sometimes they do cool things, but other times they wrap themselves around their own axle to make something ostensibly clever that fails to gel. That is when I just want it to end. In bloodshed.
Bubble Guppies: Cute and kind of clever, but weak. Haven’t spent much time with them. Don’t feel like I’m missing out.
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Kill it with fire.
Dino Dan: Like! The kid is a little overprecocious and his fam is kind of happy in a relaxed manner that seems authentic. I should note at this point that the program is Canadian. The concepts are pretty big for a munchkin of Offspring’s vintage, but she loves this one and I can’t fault her.
Dora the Explorer: Now a lot of people swear by Dora, but I hate it more every time I see it. She shouts. Who are these parents who keep turning this toddler loose in the rainforest, and why does the fox steal things just to throw them around and make them inconvenient? When they run out of ideas, the writers use this troll who just needs to get a better gig. And for the love, stop clicking on things like this is a computer game because then you’re just pointing out that this is just like spending time in front of the computer, but less active. Also, waaay overmarketed. All I can picture is a factory full of tiny Doras ironing Dora decals onto shoddily made consumer goods, and that makes me sad.
Go, Diego, Go! Dora knockoff. This is not a secret. Missions are a little more complicated, way more contrived, and involve animals that do stupid things stupidly and are usually rescued in an improbable and physically impossible manner.
Franklin: There’s something wrong with that turtle. There, I said it.
Little Bear: Too soft, too stupid. Waaaay too much gingham.
Max and Ruby: Hate. Hate their little voices. Hate their little outfits. Hate their little paws. Hate their little stories. Hate.
Sesame Street: Still brings it after all these years. They’re freshened it up nicely, though I think some of the computer graphics are a little much.
Team Umizoomi: Meh. I admire them for going for the math. But still, meh.
Wonderpets: Okay. They’re pretty cute. And the cutesey voices are *so* over the top that they have to be kidding. And the art is kind of cool. I want to hate it, but I actually have nothing against this show.
Wow Wow Wubsy: Makes me want to stab myself in the frontal lobe to make it stop. This show is like a 20-minute seizure. Whoever put this on at six in the morning should be killed in the face.
Yo Gabba Gabba: This show is pretty great. Awesome guest stars, crazy wacked out stories, bigger than life sets. Also the reason people punch mascots. And what the hell is Muno supposed to be, anyway?
There are others, of course, but I think I’ve done enough damage to my credibility as an adult, a professional and a parent, and so will leave the rest to your imagination. Phew, that’s a load off. Is anyone still speaking to me?