Barney, the much-hated dinosaur with a positive message. Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr
You don’t need cable to entertain your kids these days. Even if you don’t feel like taking them to the library to rent DVDs, there’s always YouTube. Not having cable makes it slightly easier to filter out the crap and watch only the good shows, but it’s not completely foolproof. Sometimes you will mention to someone that you do not like a particular children’s television show and they will go out and buy all the DVDs of that show that they can find and give them to your delighted child. At any rate, here is a guide that will hopefully give you some ideas of shows to look for and shows to steer your children away from.
My Little Pony
A favourite from childhood, even the new episodes of My Little Pony have it all: rainbows, unicorns, flying horses, baby dragons, drama and intrigue. This is the best fucking show on the planet. My son and I watched an episode on YouTube today, and it was “to be continued.” I found the next episode immediately so that we could find out what happens. How often does a children’s television show leave the child and the parent wanting more?
Few parents aren’t annoyed by Caillou. Common grievances concerning this character include its whining, its whining and its whining. Wow, Caillou, just stop whining already! This kid lives in a decent neighbourhood, his family has a nice house, and he has his own show. What the hell is his problem? What does he want?
Barney & Friends
I don’t understand all the hatred for Barney. I realize that he’s not the most realistic character out there — yes, he is a singing purple dinosaur — but he’s supposed to be imaginary. His message is be nice to each other, use your imagination and be a loving person. And the reaction from the general public is a desire to kill the friendly purple dinosaur? Come on, people — at least he’s not throwing himself on the floor and having epic tantrums over trivial shit. Are you taking notes, Caillou?
The first time I saw this show, I thought, “Wow, when did Sesame Street jump the shark?” I am not at all amused by Mr. Noodle’s antics, and Dorothy the goldfish is the least charismatic character in the history of children’s television. All she does is float around in her bowl, not saying anything or doing anything. And then Elmo will say something like, “Dorothy wants to know how you wash your hands!” Bullshit, Elmo. Dorothy doesn’t give a fuck about how anybody washes their hands. First of all, she doesn’t have any hands. Secondly, she just sits around and defecates in her own water all day. I know that I just told you all to give Barney a chance because he’s just a nice dinosaur who loves everybody. Maybe this suggestion should apply to Elmo as well, but I just wish that he would stop talking about himself in the third person. I know that I should be nicer to Elmo, but I still cackle with mirth every time I see Ricky Gervais being a dick to him in this video.
Dora the Explorer
Dora the Explorer is alright. It’s not My Little Pony, but it’s not bad.The show encourages children to interact with it, and my son actually responds when Dora asks a question and waits for an answer. My only issue is this: why did they have to produce a separate show aimed at boys (Go, Diego, Go!) when they already had a perfectly good show that everyone could enjoy? Dora is a strong and adventurous little girl who is entertaining for boys and girls alike, so why do we need Diego?
Thomas & Friends
My son loves the Thomas trains. He knows all their names. He can tell Thomas and Edward apart even though they’re both blue. His favourite character is Diesel 10, the bad train who likes to cause accidents on purpose. My son likes watching YouTube videos of kids playing with their Thomas trains even more than he likes watching the actual show. He also likes watching the Trackmaster’s YouTube videos. The Trackmaster is a grown-ass man with a shitload of Thomas trains who talks about his stuff on YouTube all day. To each her or his own, I guess.
Fifi and the Flowertots
I’ve only seen one episode of this show, and I have seen this episode 500 million times because it is on one of my son’s DVDs. In this episode, a really bossy character named Primrose is making pea soup, and she sends her perfectly nice friends on a wild goose chase to find some peas.
You would think that you would have peas on hand before starting to make pea soup, but whatever. This is the basic plot of this episode.
So I guess she’s just stirring a pot of water or something while her friends visit some other flowertots to see if they have any peas. Of course, no one has any, but they have other vegetables that they’re willing to give away. So Primrose’s friends keep bringing all these other vegetables back, and she keeps turning her nose up at them and smugly telling them that she’s making pea soup so she needs peas while she’s stirring her water. The tone of her voice betrays her thoughts, which are, Jesus, I have really stupid friends.
Finally her friends are like, “OK, look, Primrose, we’ve been running around for hours trying to find peas, and nobody has any, so can’t you just make carrot soup or something?” And then she’s like, “I have peas in my garden. DUH.” Why did you send your friends out looking for peas if you already had them in your garden, Primrose? What the fuck? ■