Since officially becoming a stay at home mom, I have had the pleasure of being exposed to the joy that is children's television. FYI, for those of you who grew up in the 80's like me, kid's TV doesn't just happen on Saturday mornings anymore. It is a multiple channel, all day, every day, onslaught of cartoons, puppets and out-of-work amphetamine-pumped actors who just need to pay the rent. I usually limit Luke to one hour of brain rot per day, but every single day I find myself just a little more perplexed by the babble that is preschool programming.
Somehow, in the 25 years or so since I watched Sesame Street, Elmo has staged a coup and taken over the block and now the entire show is pretty much dedicated to him. Elmo, being his friendly, furry self, can't ever say no to a new friend and I'm pretty sure that's how the greasy Mr. Noodle drifted into Elmo's life and took up residence in his closet. This dude clearly drinks mouthwash for breakfast, hasn't had a shower in weeks and has no problem asking Elmo to bum a 20 every now and then, for like food and stuff. He is totally incompetent. Elmo can ask him to do the simplest task and Mr. Noodle screws it up. Mr. Noodle, can you wash your hands? Guy ends up washing his hair. Mr. Noodle, can you ride a bike? Guy ends up making a pizza. Mr. Noodle, can you name a magazine? Ha, ha, gotcha! The good news is that the Sesame Street Homeowners Association must have also been just as perturbed by Mr. Noodle as I am and kicked him out (God knows Elmo didn't have the balls to do it.) He no longer appears in the newer episodes, as he has been replaced by a segment called "Elmo the Musical." Either that or the guy went to rehab.
Yo Gabba Gabba
I took a wonderful class in college called "60's in America" and my well-respected professor once spent the better part of one class telling us about the one time he dropped acid being one of the most profound experiences in his entire life. I spent the rest of the semester lamenting the fact I didn't live through the 60's and wondering if I would ever have the guts to try acid myself, because in college you want everything to be profound. To be clear, the answer is no, I do not have the guts to try acid - JUST SAY NO! The good news is that even though I'll never find myself sucking on a smiley face emblazoned tab of paper, I don't feel like I've missed out on the whole tripping experience thanks to the mind-bender that is Yo Gabba Gabba. The premise of the show is that this one guy has a suitcase full of toys that he sets up on a hotel banquet table and then they somehow come to life and then chaos ensues. It is a solid half hour of strobe lights, shapes, strange animals and loud noises.There are entire sequences that are nothing more than a hypnotic animated screensaver. And then the animal-monster guys do some sort of chant and a dance that draws you in so that the rest of the day you just keep thinking "Eggs in my tummy, yummy yummy." Actually, come to think of it, maybe they're just trying to draw kids into a cult.
The Cat in the Hat
This show really should be every mother's worst nightmare. The same thing happens every day: two kids are playing outside when the Cat in the Hat shows up and offers to take them on an adventure. They diligently run inside and ask their mother if they can go, and mom, being absorbed in some mundane motherly task, doesn't really listen to to kids and chuckles and says "sure." Then the Cat loads the kids up into his rickety old car and they go to like, Brazil or something. Ok, now re-read the above section and replace "Cat" with
"Creepo" and you'll see what I mean. This is a classic abduction story and somebody needs to put out an Amber Alert for these kids ASAP. Did we suddenly forget about stranger danger? Mom never gets up to check on her kids, and really is only visible for 5 seconds each episode. Also, the kicker is that the Cat is voiced by Martin Short, who I cannot verify isn't a criminal himself. I just know that on the final episode of the show the kids aren't going to come back and mom is going to feel terrible for spending the whole darn day playing Angry Birds and not paying enough attention to her kids.
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
I find myself offended by this abomination on a deep, personal level. Daniel Tiger is the little jerk that they put in charge of Mister Roger's Neighborhood, because apparently you can just leave a legacy alone. When I was little Mister Roger's Neighborhood was the absolute best part of my day. How cool was this guy? He changed his shoes just to go into his house! AND THERE WAS A TROLLEY IN HIS LIVING ROOM! I lived for this show, and the puppets and everything about it. Now we have Daniel Tiger, who is animated btw, so good bye really awesome live action trolley, and he just goes around doing normal cartoony things, all the while singing the "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" with the super annoying sing-songy addition of "Ride along" tagged to the end of the verse. And that's all they do. There is no magic, I guess they try to teach kids to share or something but they don't go to the crayon factory or have to deal with Elaine Fairchild and the whole thing falls short of anything that is remotely fun. As my husband puts it, he'd "Rather spend 30 minutes at Fred Roger's grave, paying his respects, than have to watch that crap."
Of course, my opinions and those of my 1.5 year-old vary dramatically. He eats up every single moment of these shows, clapping and dancing and singing and it makes me question the sanity of children everywhere. With the next kid on the way, I figure I've got about 5 more years of this stuff before I can move on to what's next? The Disney Channel? Maybe we'll just become one of those progressive hippie families that doesn't watch T.V.