An Open Letter to Children's Television Producers

Post by Jen @ Life on the SONny Side

Dear Children's Television Producers,

I wish that I better understood exactly who you weirdos actually are before drafting this letter. But, I don't. So, let me assume that you're one of the following: 

1. Cracked out junkies writing about rainbow-colored, LSD-inspired, talking animals in order to pay for your next eight-ball of crystal-crack...or bath gels...or whatever you're snorting this week. (Can you tell that I'm not a user?)

2. Sadists who hate your parents for not taking you out for enough ice cream when you were little, so now you've made it your life's work to torture other parents the world over with awful musical ear worms that repeat themselves over and over again in our brains during both sleep and waking hours until we start feeling several fries short of a Happy Meal.

3. Actual legitimate crazy people. The kind who eat chalk, wear coffee filters as hats, and have conversations with  coat-racks.

4. Lazy jerks who throw darts against a giant wall full of weird things in order to craft a new show....Like: Dinosaurs, Locomotives, & Elvis Presley. If you've seen this episode of Dinosaur Train, you know exactly where I'm coming from. What?

Now that I think I know who you are, let me begin by saying this. I sort of hate you. Sometimes I love you. But, mostly I totally hate you.

I'm a mom who believes in the educational value of certain kinds of television for children. Sesame Street taught me how to tie my shoes and helped me better develop certain language skills when I was little. It can encourage imagination and help teach some critical social skills through modeling. 

Don't get me wrong, my munchkin is not glued to the tube all day, but we do let him watch some kid-friendly television when he needs some downtime. I just wish that I didn't have to hate it all so much.

I admire that you want to teach preschoolers about letters and numbers and manners. Really, I do. But do you have to do it using a creature that looks like a bumpy, red, one-eyed dildo? My guess is probably not. So, stop eating that glue for a second and listen up:

Thomas & Friends- This is quite possibly the most boring kids show out there. I will literally never understand why it allegedly gets kids excited about trains. It gets me excited about naps. I bet the Isle of Sodor stinks.

The Wiggles- These guys are getting really old. There's a lot of saggy waggle in their wiggle these days. I wish they'd trade in their spandex for a tasteful cardigan and make that stupid, out-of-place pirate walk the plank once and for all. If Dorothy the Dinosaur ate him, I would want to watch.

Caillou- I don't need to touch this one with a ten-foot pole. It's all been said before. We all hate you. Except for our kids. They love you. We obviously lose this round.

Yo Gabba Gabba- This one feels almost too crazy to touch. Robots and characters that look like giant crying condoms. The songs are more infectious than a case of The Clap. The misfit dancing kids in ugly sweaters make me want to pee my pants. The celebrity cameos and alt rock bands are so unbelievably random that I almost can't hate it. Almost.

Barney- How is this show still on? Do you think that the casting call for the children who perform along side the dinosaurs says, "Help Wanted: Worst Child Actors Ever"? I suspect that it does. I swear I've seen my 20-month-old roll his eyes at the cheese level of this awful show. But, man he loves that horrible song at the end. I'm beginning to think that there are subliminal messages in it telling him to watch more Caillou.

Bob the Builder- I don't get it. This low-res claymation disaster just doesn't hold up alongside its more dynamic and flashy counterparts. Also, Wendy...no one really wears overalls anymore. I'm just sayin'.

Curious George- I actually love you. Maybe it's because you don't talk. I like that. I just decided that I'm going to start putting you on more often...

Sesame Street- I really can't complain about this one. You're smart. You're musical and not in an awful way. You throw in some humor for me. You recycle footage from back in the day, which is always cool to see. The cast, both old and new are fantastic. And while, we're super sad about whatever the Kevin Clash situation actually is/was, Elmo is a character that never fails to make my child smile or giggle. If the rest of you awful children's shows could be a little more like Sesame Street, my television-world would be a better place.

I'm exhausted trying to explain or defend your bad acting and oddball characters to my husband. So, to recap...less whiney, singing personal massagers, more clever muppets with a sense of humor. Got it? Good.

I appreciate your time and consideration. Now go back to whatever weird thing you were probably doing before I interrupted.

Yours Truly,
Jen 

49 comments:

  1. Yes and even yesser. Singing dildos are the stuff nightmares are made of. I'm wondering if these shows also have a fund for future lawsuits from therapy. Also, it is hilarious to listen to a group of adults discuss children's shows. I *might* have been rumored to say "Oh, I will so out Hot Dog Dance your ass."

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    1. I smell a challenge Tracy Winslow. Bring it! A Google Hangout dance-off is in the cards for us...wait until you see me drop it like it's hot (dog) ;)

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  2. We call it "Thomas and the Communist Island of Sodor". Everyone bow to the fearless leader Sir Topenhat and remember "fun is for loosers and captialists"!

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    1. We need to help the poor people of Sodor now! (Screw the boring trains though.)

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  3. Now it all makes sense as to how they created Dinosaur Train... As a Mom of a 4 year old, I concur. My daughter's latest favorite show is "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood". It's cute, but I think they only made four episodes. I can just about recite them. Sad...

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    1. Mine only like the theme song to that one. Ugga Mugga!

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  4. I always thought they were a bit weird...thought it was just me.

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  5. I never got Thomas the train either. The books are boring too. I haven't seen Caillou or Yo Gabba-Gabba...yet. Here's to hoping I never do!

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    1. Good for you! Stay far far away from Caillou. But for some reason, I feel like your artistic side might appreciate the weirdness of Yo Gabba Gabba ;)

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  6. I was you. Now I have teenagers whose favorite movies involve bugging eyeballs, blood and, frequently, chain saws. Almost makes me long for Barney. Almost.

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    1. Karen is always here with a steady hand to remind me that I have nothing to look forward to... Thanks Karen ;)

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  7. More like the Isle of Snoozedor

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    1. Anonymous8/14/2014

      Thomas the Tank Engine is what my son's Cardiologist plays when our son lies on top of one of us (his parents) for his heart exam. Sometimes he even falls asleep. So that is it's sole value in the universe, boring adults and children into a near-catatonic state for the purposes of a medical exam.

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  8. My daughter hates Barney, Caillou, and Yo Gabba-Gabba. For whatever reason, she loves Thomas and is always trying to explain its merits because I do seriously question her choice on this selection. She also likes Wonderpets, my personal fave!

    The worst douche-bag kid character on the planet, for the record, is Franklin. He is a piece of shit, brat-faced, a-hole. I would take the purple dino over this turtle ANY.DAY. My daughter thinks they don't make that show anymore. If any of you tell her, I'ma hunt you down and punch your face off your head.

    Oh, forgot to mention, we're big fans of Sesame Street as well as the Electric Company (old style, not new!) which is where Morgan Freeman got his start. Check it out --- it's freaking HILARIOUS!!!

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    1. Holy Bubble Guppies! You're cracking me right up about Franklin! I don't think I've seen it. I'm pretty sure that I'll do all I can to keep it that way now. Wonderpets is cute, except for Ming-Ming. I hate when they give characters a lisp of sorts. I'm trying to get my kiddo to talk the right way still! I don't need a duck in a fighter-pilot helmet messing it all up for me ;)

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  9. You forgot the Teletubbies, although I don't think they're on anymore. {BIG HUG} Those things just creeped me the hell out. And about Yo Gabba Gabba? I cannot believe that shit hasn't been sensored yet.

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    1. P.S., I kind of love Phineas and Ferb.

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    2. Agreed! Teletubbies and Yo Gabba Gabba definitely live on the same plane of insanity! Muno should totally be censored! P.S. My husband and I are a little obsessed with Phineas and Ferb too. My nephew turned us on to it before we even had Leo. We've been watching on our own like a couple of goons ever since ;)

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  10. I was just commenting to my wife last night that, "Boy am I glad the boys never got into Caillou, because Twitter HAAATTEEES him."

    Never crossed our radar once, so thankful for that.

    My rankings go - Curious George, Sesame, Backyardigans, and World World would probably pull 4th with Dinosaur Train somewhere shortly after. George masters the balance between educational and entertaining, imo. Sesame is a classic and can't be touched, and Backyardigans ranks so high because I just think it's so dang different. They sing, they dance, they sing and dance to different eras of music and dance styles, and I just like their overall scene.

    Word World is VERY educational, with a sprinkle or two of cute, so I highly suggest you check it out if not already.

    The pinnacle of all educational programming for me is a DVD by Leap Frog called Letter Factory. I put my personal guarantee on this for teaching your kid(s) the alphabet. Rock solid and a must view.

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    1. Brad, I'm glad we see eye-to-eye when it comes to something as important as Children's Television Programming ;) I will definitely check out Letter Factory. Mine is still too young for Word World I think. We do love the Backyardigans though! I said if I ever have a daughter I should totally name her Uniqua!

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  11. I was actually looking forward to Yo Gabba Gabba long before it hit the air. I met a member of the Aquabats when they played at a small club, and I asked him why the band seemed to be touring so much less. He told me they were working on a children's television show based entirely on songs they had written for their own kids, and the show would feature DJ Lance. All of a sudden I knew that the weirdest kids show in history was about to hit the airwaves.

    Also... how can you call Thomas the most boring kids show?! How about Little Bear. Or worse... MUCH worse... is Max and Ruby. Even the theme song is boring and uninspired:
    Max and Ruby
    Ruby and Max
    Max and Ruby
    Ruby and Max
    Max and Ruby
    Ruby and her little brother Max

    Wow. Even my kids make fun of that bullshit.

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    1. That's pretty cool about the Aquabats. A lil' background definitely helps their case. I still can't forgive the tall white character that looks like a crying condom. I have to draw the line somewhere.

      I stand by my Thomas claims because we don't have to watch Max and Ruby or Baby Bear yet. So, I'll just have to take your word for it on those ;)

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  12. I'm with Karen. (Sorry) My kids had Barney, Teletubbies (vomit now please) Dora, Reading Rainbow and the awful Max, Ruby and Caillou. They have all been replaced with Big Time Rush and One Direction. Those aren't as bad as Max and Ruby. Take comfort. There IS something that sucks less.

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    1. Light at the end of the tunnel afterall...Thanks for restoring my hope Teri!

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  13. My kid missed out on all these. We had Sesame and Mr. Rogers and that's about all I let him watch, so I don't really have any current knowledge, but I agree with you on principle!

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  14. got a kick out of this walk down memory lane--how about the blue dog and the red dog? The best ever though was Pinky and the Brain though it is more for older kids

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  15. Bumpy, red, one-eyed dildo!!! I am going to walk around repeating that in my head all day. Then you had to add the walking condom bit, and I lost it. That was frickin 'awesome, and I am so with you on the Worst Child Actors EVER on Barney. It pains me.

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    1. THANK YOU for agreeing with me about those kids! Every other child I've ever met could do a better job than the ones they pick :)

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  16. I agree with much of this. Most of the things on the Sprout Channel at least aren't offensive or distasteful, but they still don't really make sense. I agree that Thomas is boring, but at least it has moral lessons. I like Super Why and Lazy Town is fun to make fun of.

    In general though, I can't wait until he is old enough to watch movies... and the kind that I enjoy.

    mommycall.wordpress.com

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    1. I actually like Super Why too. I prefer to call Lazy Town, Crazy Town :)

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  17. I totally agree with your letter. I actually can't keep up with all the new shows out there. It seems like everytime we get attached to a good one, it goes away and something new and stupid comes in it's place.

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  18. Yes!!!! I couldn't have said it better myself. You hit the nail on he head with all o these shows.... The good, the bad, and the downright confusing and horrible:)

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    1. Thanks Katie! Yes...confusing is definitely the common theme!!

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  19. I actually love most of the PBS shows...Curious George, Super Why, Word World, Sesame Street...all except Barney, who is just super soppy!!!
    But, wait till your kids start watching Sponge Bob!! *ominous music*

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    1. Agreed! PBS is totally doing it right compared to some of the others! Is it wrong that I don't totally hate Spongebob? I'm a closet Patrick the Starfish fan ;)

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  20. I concur completely! I wrote a post last year for a TV blog about how they don't make kids shows like they used to. I remember the days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rescue Rangers, and My Pet Monster, etc.
    Franklin drives me crazy because he has a name, so does his sister Harriet but none of the other animals have names? WTH? Same issue with Bearnsteing Bears-- Mama, Papa, Sister, Brother. Why do they feel the need to insult our children's intelligence?
    Toopy and Binoo-- that shit is messed up. One day he's Toopy, then he's princess Toopy... he never wears pants, and don't get me started about the episode with them in the tub and dropping the bar of soap. Seriously.
    Finally Max & Ruby-- where the heck are their parents? Ruby is bossy, and runs the house-- she's supposed to be around 8. Max is spoiled and shows children they eventually get what they want if they outsmart their elders -- I'd say parents but nope, Ruby is raising him. They have a Grandma who lives somewhere else, but there is NEVER a parent in that house.
    Oh, I lied not finally, what is with that weird show on Treehouse (Canadian), 4 Square-- why do the grown men have to be in unitards... it's creepy.
    Rate over, thanks for the awesome post about children's television.

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  21. Megan, you're like my sister from another mister on this topic! I LOVE IT! I adored TMNT & Rescue Rangers ;)

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  22. Although it repeats my comment a bit, here's the article I wrote. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-ward/retro-cartoons-for-the-wi_b_1163497.html

    I agree, you may be my sister from another mister.

    Cowabunga!

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  23. So I was looking up Muno and dildos... saw this. Saw all my friends. Had a great laugh. :)

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  24. That Daniel Tiger is heresy, I tell you. If you want Mr. Rogers, just watch Mr. Rogers. Why bugger it all up by animating it, bastardizing the characters and mangling the music. It's a horror show in primary colors...absolute heresy.

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  25. I could not possibly agree with this astute observation any more! The awful new theme song is creeping into my brain right now!

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  26. Yo Gabba Gabba and Sponge Bob are 2 cartoons that I have brainwashed my 3 yr old that 'we don't like'. I have to smile every time I'm not in the room and one of those shows comes on and my son shrieks, "Mommy! Mommy! (Insert cartoon name) is on! I don't like this show!" YES! 1 point mom, big fat 0 to the stupidest kids shows on tv. Couldn't agree with you more on the condom and dildo character discription. Every time Yo Gabba Gabba comes on I think, 'What the f*ck were they thinking?!?' And then I tell my husband, 'You can't tell me whoever created this show wasn't on some type of serious drug.' I thinking watching wonderpets is like watching paint dry. We can't escape Caillou here, I don't mind him much, but he is pretty whiney.

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Well now that you're all up in our business...what have you got to say for yourself???

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