Do you ever watch a kids TV show and feel really troubled by some aspect of it? I do. All the time. Here’s a rundown of the ones that worry me the most.
Sarah and Duck
Now I love Sarah and Duck. I actually watch it sometimes when the boys aren’t around because I think it’s that bloody good. BUT. There’s some really weird shit going down here. For a start… WHERE are Sarah’s parents? I mean, I reckon she’s about, what? Eight years old? And she lives in a house with only a duck for company and NO parental supervision. Except for maybe Scarf Lady, who checks up on Sarah every now and again, appears to have the early signs of dementia and is mostly looked after by her knitting bag (unless she leaves it on the bus, which she has done once or twice). None of Sarah’s friends have parents either. One of them has a flamingo as a pet/companion, another one is weirdly obsessed with plates and there are mostly mute twin girls living in the house next door. And Sarah is pretty chummy with the moon too, FYI. There are adults around, mostly doing jobs (baker, crayon shopkeeper, etc), but none of the kids in the show appear to belong to them. At first I thought I was missing something, like maybe it was a Charlie and Lola kind of set up where there ARE parents, you just don’t ever see them. But no. No parents. And that troubles me.
While we’re on the subject of absent parents… BING! Where are his bunny family at? Bing is looked after by a brown sack thing called Flop, who has endless patience for all of Bing’s infuriating habits and struggles to reach the front door handle without a stepladder. Some help he’d be in a house fire. Flop basically keeps Bing’s moral compass on track and looks after his equally irritating friends every now and again (when they’re not being looked after by a sack elephant called Ama at playschool). Flop even has baby photos of Bing, but there are no parents anywhere to be seen in any of them. Did Flop snatch Bing from his crib in the night? Who knows?! I suspect he probably wanders around the house swearing a lot after Bing has gone to bed though. And I have to wonder, since there are no adult animals anywhere to be seen and only weird sack creatures doing anything responsible… Is there a rather horrifying transformation in Bing’s future, or is he doomed to live in some kind of perpetual state of toddlerhood forever?
In The Night Garden
God, this show is creepy. For a start, Mr and Mrs Pontipine need to get a handle on their parenting. They never fucking know where their kids are. I mean, I don’t know if there’s some alcoholism going on behind that red door or what, but somebody needs to do something about that. Aside from the troubling parental issues, there’s Makka Pakka and his cleaning OCD, Upsy Daisy and her frankly terrifying singing and possessed bed, and three funky little critters called Tombliboos who play ghastly music and lose their trousers far more often than is strictly necessary. Then there are the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk, both of which regularly try to annihilate all inhabitants of and visitors to the garden with their crazy upside down, head-on collision antics respectively. And then. Then there’s Iggle Piggle, the Night Garden overlord himself. That thing is nightmare fuel. Enough said.
Nelly and Nora
I might be missing something here, but I don’t think these kids go to school. They live on a caravan site and kind of run around doing not very much and most episodes seem to have something to do with the weather. Maybe they’re homeschooled? I don’t know, but I suppose at least these children have parents, even if those parents do abandon them on a hot beach in one episode while they go frolic in the sea. Not that I’m being judgy, but who does that? Pack your kids some fucking flip-flops in the beach bag FFS.
There isn’t anything wrong with this unless you overthink it. Which, of course, I have. This show is basically about vegetables. Singing vegetables with names and personalities. And that’s sort of where this becomes problematic for me. Because I really want my kids to eat vegetables, but I worry that this show might cause them to empathise with their butternut squash risotto. So far, O has not made the connection between Margaret the cabbage and co and anything he’s seen in the fruit and veg aisles at Sainsbury’s. But O is nothing if not observant and he will make that connection one day. The best part is, I haven’t got a fucking clue what I’m going to say to him. I am prepared for the Peppa Pig/bacon debacle, but anthropomorphised vegetables is another matter entirely.
Tree Fu Tom
Where do Tom’s parents think he goes when he’s actually gadding about in Treetopolis? I’m a little concerned that they let him go raking about in the woods by himself in the first place, if I’m completely honest. But then he pushes the boundaries that bit more by doing his magic shrinky thing and disappearing off to a magical land. What if something happened to him there and he didn’t make it back in time for tea? His poor parents would be doomed to spend the rest of their lives searching for him in vain and making ever more desperate TV appeals whilst cursing themselves for letting him play in the woods by himself to begin with. What a thoroughly depressing series that would be.
What about you? Have I missed any shows that give you the willies? I must confess that we only really watch CBeebies in our house, so there could be all kinds of freaky stuff going on over on Nick Jr that I’m not even aware of! Let me know in the comments or via Twitter/Facebook.