I’m not sure how it happened, but we’ve cultivated a less-than-desirable morning routine of allowing Bee to watch TV bright and early. It is partly the result of a lapse between the time that I leave for work, and the time that Chris achieves semi-consciousness, and partly the result of sheer overindulgence.
Whatever the reason, Bee now watches a good 45 minutes of TV pretty much every morning. It’s worse on weekends, as neither one of us is willing to cop to a state of semi-consciousness until at least 8 am, and Bee can wake up as early as 6:30. She doesn’t notice that I’m lying on the couch, drooling if Diego is on. So between weekends and the occasional morning that I remain at home, I have become fairly well versed in television for toddlers.
It’s certainly not like when I was a kid – television was all about Sesame Street, Davey and Goliath (what? It’s old testament), Fables of the Green Forest and Mr. Dressup, and the weekends gave way to gems like The Harlem Globetrotters, Captain Caveman and Schoolhouse Rock.
And now? Well, Mr. Dressup is dead (r.i.p), Elmo has taken over the old ‘hood and The Green Forest must have been clear-cut. What do children today get? Nothing but a sorry mix of value tales and low-budget puppet porn – oh, wait…
Anyway, here are a few of what I consider to be the good, the bad, and the ugly of children’s television programming. Let the brain rotting begin:
Zoboomofoo – I dig the little lemur's show, partly because this was Bee’s first TV show addiction, and partly because I like dorks, and you don’t get any dorkier than the Kratt Brothers. Sure, it’s formulaic, and yes, Zobooland is always recycled and rarely makes sense, but seriously, how cute is it to hear my kid say, ‘Oh, a kinkajou!’
Nanalan’ – everybody wishes she had a Nana like Nanalan’! Mona is one lucky puppet, what with a caregiver as invested as hers. Seriously, Nana never says, Mona, take your annoying dog and scram – Nana needs a gimlet. No, they’re too busy baking play-dough, frolicking in the rain and watching the best damn puppet shows I’ve ever seen on a, well, puppet show.
Backyardigans – the Backyardigans have flava’. Tyrone, Uniqua and the gang have the music, the moves, and the imagination. Makes me very intolerant of bad kids’ music on other shows, like…
Hi-5 – Oh god. Shoot me now. Bee seems to enjoy watching this irritating gang of theatre-school dropouts prance around to the worst song-and-dance routines ever written. I want to smack the silly smiles right off of their faces. And I would, except I don’t want to get all tangled up in their gay headsets.
Arthur – I don’t know if this is such a terrible show, but I hate the style of animation. Can’t even bring myself to watch long enough to find out if it’s a really terrible show. Bee doesn’t like it either. Unfortunately she doesn’t mind…
Elmo’s World – like I said earlier, Elmo is just not in my scope of reality, and I didn’t particularly ever need him to be. I really got my hate on for the little red weirdo when I worked at a toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze. I don’t know, inviting someone to tickle you just seems dirty, man. And what’s with the stupid fish? It’s not like she contributes anything.
Big Comfy Couch – this is the one that I truly can’t stand. I’m not sure if it’s the totally low-budge, chaotic sets, the fucking clown noses, or the supporting cast. I hate it all. I can dig strange, but Lunette’s world just seems like a bad acid trip to me. And that couch looks fucking disgusting, like Major Bedhead would bag a prostitute or Lindsay Lohan on it. Probably has.
Wonderpets – again, freaks me out. The style of animation; the weird is-it-real, is-it-not-real meld of stills and live action; the speech impediment – was this their way of trying to be inclusive? Because I find a fake speech impediment just kind of creepy. And annoying. And the fact that every song has the same tune? Cheap.
So there you have it. It’s enough to make me want to ditch cable (we keep threatening.) Hopefully no one ever critiques the shows that I watch.