Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Worst PBS Kids shows for your preschoolers (and, yes, it's biased and without *much* logic)

I have a confession to make...

My children were watching t.v. long before the two year-old American Pediatrics Association starting point.  In fact, my son watched so much Sesame Street that at the age of two he knew his ABCs and could count up to 100.  Eric couldn't talk at all, but when you have two kids under 2 years, you need preschooler programming in order not to binge drink.  


Eric can now talk, just in case you were wondering, but I'll be the first to admit that when Mommy has to make dinner, I have no problem with my kids watching t.v.  My only rule is that it can't be Nickelodeon or any of those Disney channels; it can only be PBS.  This is not because John and I are intellectual snobs; it's simply because I cannot stand those loud, toxic commercials that turn my otherwise nice kids into selfish little monsters at the store.


For those of you who don't want to endure hours of shitty preschooler programming in order to find a good show for your young kids, you've come to the right blog.  I've done the work for you.  You're welcome, by the way.  I'll take payment in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Or Edible Arrangements with lots of chocolate strawberries.


The following is a list of the worst shows on PBS. The next post will be a list of the BEST shows on PBS, but I ran out of time.  All of these programs are either on local PBS stations or on a 24-hour preschool station called "PBS Sprout."* 




Shows that Suck
(in order no particular order)

 1. Lazytown (as seen on PBS Sprout).
Holy horse crap, whoever came up with this idea should be in therapy.  The premise is this: a perky tween girl with neon pink hair moves to a town filled with lazy and creepy looking muppet rejects.  A new super-hero in his twenties named Sportucus comes to town to teach everyone about healthy eating habits and exercise.  Sportucus is thwarted, however, by an evil villain named Robbie Rotten (also a man in his twenties).

Here's the thing: if there were more boys and girls on the show (real kids, not garish cartoon-puppets), I wouldn't have a problem with it.  But when the premise is one prepubescent girl whose only friend is a grown man saving her from a villain?  This sets off my Creep-o-meter.  I can appreciate a show that wants to teach healthy habits to young kids, but why in the name of Zeus's bung hole are the ONLY human characters a 12 year old girl and two grown men?  Where I come from, there's a word for athletic men in their twenties who move to a town in order to play with 12 year-old girls, and it isn't "Superhero."     

Grade: F


 2. Barney (now seen on PBS Sprout)

My good friends Pete and Alison refer to Barney as "the purple scourge."  There's a reason why adults hate this show.  Barney has a total of 2 brain cells that continuously collide in a verbal retching
of overly enthusiastic one-liners like "Super-Dee Duper!"  and "Everything is better with a friend."  Barney neglects to mention that everything with better with a friend who will play the Barney drinking game with you over Skype.

(Update: I just went to the drinkiwiki page and there is no official drinking game for Barney!  This is a grave injustice.  There's one for the Wiggles for God's sake!  My theory is that no one wants to sit through enough episodes of Barney to create a drinking game.  Or they're so drunk after sitting through a couple episodes of the show that they forget all the rules.)


Grade: D-



 3. Thomas the Train (now seen on PBS Sprout)

I know what you're thinking.  'Now what in the world could this chick possibly have against Thomas??'  Well, for one thing Thomas is a dick.  Don't believe me?  Watch a couple shows.  Also, all the engines do really shitty things and never follow the rules which makes everyone "cross."
"Sir Topham Hat was cross."
"Percy was cross."
"Gordon was cross."
"Emily was cross."
 Now whenever Mommy is having a PMS moment, my kids follow me around saying "Is Mommy cross?"

But kudos to the makers of Thomas for FINALLY having female engines.  Equal opportunity and steam engines go together like sushi and chocolate.


Grade: C



 4. Caillou: the first season with the weird puppets (as soon on PBS Sprout)


The four devoted followers of this blog will no doubt remember my Caillou rant from last year.

Caillou is actually 2 different shows: the first season consists of bizarre running dialogs between the family cat and two of Caillou's stuffed animals interspersed with mini-episodes of cartoon Caillou whining and other stereotypical preschool antics. 

Caillou isn't actually a bad show if you watch the later seasons where Caillou consistently uses "please" and "thank you."  My kids actually started saying "please" and "thank you" a heck of a lot more after watching the later seasons.  But in the first season Caillou sounds like a braying mule and throws tantrums whenever he's unhappy.  I learned quickly that kids emulate whatever they see on the screen.  Eric watched these early episodes one day, and the next morning I woke up to demon spawn.  Any show that changes your child into a brat should never be allowed in the home. 


Grade: D



5. Cat in the Hat (local PBS morning programming)

 The theme song to this show drives me absolutely bonkers.  The voice of the Cat is none other than Martin Short after he's done a few lines of cocaine and snorted bath salts.  Maybe it's because I'm not a morning person, but listening to a hyper, super-quirky cartoon makes me want to punch someone in the throat, mostly Martin Short.
 There are two 15 minute episodes per show and the two main characters are children Sally and Nick.  Sally and Nick are playing happily by themselves when the Cat mysteriously appears to whisk them away in his freaky flying car.  Of course, their mother is completely oblivious to all this.  Probably because she's grateful to finally have a chance to finish a cup of coffee (something I haven't done in over four years).  They go on adventures where Nick and Sally learn about new things through the Cat's myriad of animal friends.  Suffice to say, that Cat must really get around because he has a friend in every corner of the globe.  It's a cute show, and if it weren't for my overstimulated ear-drums, it wouldn't even be on the "suck" list.

Grade: B-



Shows that moderately suck, but I don't have any more time for witty sarcasm: 
Dora the Explorer (preschool girl who hangs out with her cousin Diego [who is old enough to have a driver's license, BTW] and a monkey, all while dodging some crazy klepto named Swiper)

Angelina Ballerina (A prissy, self-centered mouse who loves to dance)


Poppy Cat (It's British.  And annoying) 


the Wiggles (It's the Beatles! Only dressed like Star Trek rejects who dance and sing inane songs about things kids love... like food) 


Chloe's Closet (the bossiest bitch on the planet makes all her friends play whatever dress up game SHE wants to play.  And it's British) 


Word Girl (Wouldn't be bad for older kids, but too mentally stimulating for preschoolers)


 I was going to have a list of awesome shows for your kids, but I think I'll leave that for another post.
While writing this I also realized that I am completely biased against the shows whose theme songs I hate.  Interesting....

* I have no idea who came up with the idea of 24-hour kids programming, but they deserve a medal.  Unfortunately, PBS Sprout does have commercials about payday loans and cleaning products.  It was a little creepy when my kids could quote Montel Williams from the Money Mutual ads verbatim, but I consoled myself with the fact that they were too young to steal my car and go get the loan. 

7 comments:

Tracie said...

I have to agree with you on all of the series you have posted. Thankfully, my 6 year old daughter never got interested in Lazytown. She never really watched Barney enough to really get interested in it and with the other shows not so much.

Anne said...

Calliou...omg...the whining...!!!

K Wray said...

OMG... Caillou should be #1 worst !(even though I don't get the lazytown show to compare it to.) The whining kills me and gives me a headache!

When I was pregnant my husband & I decided we would veto the most annoying shows we knew of. His was Barney & mine was Spongebob Squarepants. We both agreed no teletubbies under any circumstances. We didn't know about Caillou until it was too late.

Jill Marie Young said...

I grew up watching very little preschool shows back in early 1980s. But when I was like 5-10 I was hooked into Sesame Street, which I adored the most all my life (and still like the series today) and I also loved Arthur growing up as well. When I was like 10 or later I got hooked into Anime shows like Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura back then! I still love those series today. On Nick, I watched all the old school shows like Round House, Kenan and Kel, All That, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Hey Arnold, Doug, Clarissa Explains it All, Pete and Pete, Salute your Shorts, Guts and so on. I miss those shows. Today, I like watching Drake and Josh, Icarly, Sam and Kat, Full House etc. I like Spongebob sometimes. I hate Fairly Odd Parents, but I like other "live-action shows..." Especially old school Mighty Morphin Power Rangers which is not on no more! But yeah, I liked all these shows.

Matthew Hecht said...

I actually liked the old Cailiou episodes. I liked the puppets.

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