Whenever I hear the theme song to some insipid children’s television show, I am thankful that I don’t have to sit through any more Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder. I never did let my girls get started on Teletubbies, mostly because I knew I couldn’t stomach watching it with them, and the treacly kids on Barney – well, the less said there, the better. I know those shows are made to catch the attention of toddlers, but it used to jangle on my nerves after a while, especially the favorite ones that had to be watched over and over. I’m not even familiar with recent shows, but Yo Gabba Gabba just has to be irritating, judging from the title alone.
Some shows were more intelligent than others, with a layer or two beneath for the adults watching with their kids. That is much harder to do, though, and so many shows don’t bother. Sesame Street had inside grownup jokes to laugh over, but still taught and engaged the kids. Arthur had guests and themes that were at least attractive to us in the older set. Movies like Shrek have things in them that my kids used to catch me laughing at that made absolutely no sense to them, and that made it even funnier to me.
My daughters have graduated to the older shows, and some of them are just as bad, if not worse, in the one-dimensional category. The teen shows are either kids getting in trouble or being wild, with nothing to balance it out. There is no underlying layer of story or wit. It’s all pretty sensationalistic, and they go for the biggest shocker in the story line, not the best twist or plot. Is this just an extension of the unidirectional shows they watched as kids? Is there no subtlety or wit needed, because they expect none?
Give us entertainment that also makes us think, not just puts us all in a trance; give us deeper layers. Parents would be more apt to watch with their children and know what’s influencing them from the cable and airwaves.