Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Musings of a Sesame Street Mom

Being a mom to four toddlers means that the TV show options are pretty limited in my house. Oh I know they have tons of programming geared to kids this age, but they all pretty much fall under the same umbrella for me. It's either brightly colored animals singing or people dressed in brightly colored clothes singing - not too much variety if you ask me. I guess repetition is what kids this age crave and boy, the children's TV-making tycoons sure do know it. Lately, rather than tuning out, I've started to notice a few oddities in my kids' favorite shows. The kiddos don't really notice, but some of the things I have seen really threw me for a loop. Let's take a little trip down kiddie show lane and I'll tell you what I'm talking about.

Now I love all those monsters down on Sesame Street. Heck, I grew up watching them myself as did every other kid in America who had a pulse. But this good ole monster borough has some inhabitants with some questionable names if you ask me. For example, what is up with Cookie Monster's name? None of the other monsters (Elmo, Grover, Telly, etc.) has the term "monster" after their name. I thought the "monster" moniker was just understood. That being said, why doesn't he even have a real name before the "monster?" It's just "Cookie", which describes what he likes to eat. A cop out if you ask me. I think the Sesame Street writers were just tired of thinking up names and poor old Cookie Monster got the short end of the stick. I tried to give him some dignity back and started referring to him as C.C. ("C" is for cookie ... it fits, right?), but my kids wanted none of it.

Jim Henson - 1
Frustrated Monster-Naming Monger - 0

And while we're on the topic ... the same thing goes for Big Bird. The big 8-foot tall central character couldn't get a better name than that? I think I may have missed my career calling here. I know I could have thought up something better than Big (got to be one of the most common adjectives out there) and Bird (duh ... I know what an animal with lots of feathers is).

Mickey Mouse and his endless empire have recently entered our house. I don't think we can go a day without singing the "Hot Diggity Dog" song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. But I have also noticed some things out of whack with Walt and his animated creations. Now everyone knows that Goofy and Pluto are both dogs ... but how come Goofy gets to talk and Pluto is resorted to barking and acting like, well, a dog? There seems to be some funny business going on in the Magic Kingdom when one canine gets real lines and the other is relegated to whining and barking to get his message across. I may start some sort of union for Pluto in my spare time.

Another issue is the clothing of Donald Duck. Has anyone ever noticed that Donald only wears a shirt and no pants? Essentially, I'm ok with that. He's a duck, not a human, and if Disney feels the duck should go pantless then so be it. My problem is this: Have you ever noticed that when Donald gets out of the shower (OK, clearly I watch too much of this show if I have seen the duck shower multiple times) he puts a towel around his waist??? Why does he need to do this? He goes bare-bottomed out in public every day and then all of a sudden he gets modest in the privacy of his own bathroom? I'm thinking the every-day-Donald animator and the shower-scene-Donald animator must have gotten their wires crossed somewhere. I know it's a small detail, but it drives me nuts!

Now I've got Elmo and the Wiggles here together to point out a rather confusing (or brilliant) name issue. The sidekicks for both of these characters are named Dorothy (Elmo's fish and the Wiggles' dinosaur). At first, I thought, "C'mon people, can't you think up an original name for your characters here?" But then I thought that it could be a great marketing strategy. I don't know which Dorothy came first, but maybe the namers of the second Dorothy were trying to capitalize on the name's already adopted success. You know, trick the Dorothy-loving watchers of the Wiggles into watching Elmo because he's got a friend named Dorothy too. A stretch?? Maybe. But plausible? I think so.

And to sum it all up, here are a few more short and sweet observations

Weirdest show ever. Thought I was watching a pre-school rave when I first saw it (and still do). Makes me wonder what the makers of this one are smoking during their lunch break. Jack Black was once a guest on the show so that should sum it up pretty well.

Wonder Pets, definitely my fave. They kinda fall in the Donald Duck category seeing as they wear hats and no other clothes, but I can handle it. I am formulating a theory that the Wonder Pets are solely responsible for the creation of the TV show Glee, but I've yet to put it down in writing. They sing, they dance, and all with a little dialogue sandwiched in between. How is that not the same as Glee? It does bother me that Linny is a girl (with a name like that and having her wear a baseball hat ... last time I checked, toddlers don't understand what a tomboy is), but I can live with it based on my pure love of show tunes. I think we should all pepper our every day lives with random song breakouts ... are you with me?

Now excuse me while I go and update our DVR with the latest and greatest that TV Land has to offer our kids today. And if you now find yourself over-analyzing your kids TV shows, don't blame me ... blame the dog (whether it's Pluto or Goofy ... it's up to you to decide).

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