The Curse of The Kid-Friendly TV Shows – Where’s the Quality?
posted by: Susan Wells
I recently spent two entire days on the couch with my 11-year-old daughter. She was home from school with a bad cold and needed some snuggle time.
As we sat on the couch, she flicked between several Disney and Nickelodeon shows. (When my kids usually watch TV, I’m somewhere in the vicinity but usually not sitting and actively watching the kid-friendly material.) I also give them a time limit. When the noise from the TV begins to damage MY brain cells in the other room, it is time to turn it off.
Throughout that day, which led into the next day with a fever, we watched a variety of shows, live action and cartoon. The day began with a full hour of SpongeBob. Lots of shouting, hair raising laughter, a few funny puns and a lot of noise. I made her change it, because SpongeBob is on somewhere at all hours of the day and night.
Up next was the Fairly Odd Parents. Lots of screaming, yelling, panic, excitement, big trouble and then a solution. Then back to Disney and Fish Tales. This one is cute, but there is a lot of yelling, loud talking and NOISE. Do you sense a theme here?
Then came the Disney pre-teen oriented shows like Ant Farm, Jessie, Good Luck Charlie and Austin and Ally. There isn’t as much screaming on these live-action shows as there is just annoyance. Annoying characters, annoying children, annoying fabricated struggles and annoying solutions. Each and every one of these shows serves as a vehicle for one or more of its stars. Usually a vehicle to launch their singing career on Disney Radio. No one can act, everything is over the top, including the “acting” and it starts to grate the last nerve I have left for kid-friendly shows. Quality is something wadded up and thrown in the corner of the studio floor.
After a day of watching this cookie-cutter crap, I wondered why there isn’t smart programming for our children. Do the network execs and programming managers at Disney and Nickelodeon really feel preteens only want (or can handle) mindless junk? If a cartoon isn’t shouting and yelling, a kid isn’t going to watch. If a child actor isn’t acting completely ridiculous and over the top, no one will tune in. And do they really think all kids are ignorant enough to watch a show, fall in love with the obnoxious star to then buy their vanilla song downloads? If they are, there is no real love or connection with these bland teen stars. They are a flash in the pan until the next one comes along.
I do understand needing to unplug and watch something mindless on TV. I’m guilty of it. Shows like Dance Moms, Real Housewives, and Honey Boo Boo aren’t popular for their wisdom and insights. TV can be a wasteland.
There are, however, high-quality shows for young adults and up. There are many, many educational shows for the little ones. But there seems to be a gap for the 6 to 13 year olds. I challenge the networks of Nickelodeon and Disney to add quality programming for those in elementary school. Mad Men and Honey Boo Boo are able to co-exist, why can’t Spongebob and Jessie make some room for a solid, quality show?
What are your thoughts? Are you happy with what is available for school-aged children?