I have a 5 year-old son and, because I do, I end up watching plenty of children’s programming. Programming I would otherwise be very unlikely to ever watch. Now, I know it’s for kids. And I know anything is possible in cartoonland, but some of this stuff really drives me crazy.
My wife and I have our son watch the kids’ programming that can be found on PBS and a few of the shows are pretty good. I like ‘Fetch’, ‘Arthur’, and, especially, ‘Word Girl’. ‘Word Girl’ is particularly good because the producers realize that adults may be watching so why not entertain them too?
There is one program, however, that consistently gets under my skin. It’s ‘Curious George’. What world does this monkey live in? Believe me, I try to suspend my disbelief, but it gets so difficult when George causes so much damage. He floods the apartment building he lives in, he steals the other tenants’ recyclable goods before the items have been used, he splashes paint all over an empty apartment. He never gets in trouble! The Man in the Yellow Hat must be worth millions or have quite the insurance policy to cover all the damage this monkey does.
In George’s world, people don’t realize he’s a monkey. Well, they do, but they treat him as though he’s human. In one rather excruciating episode, George finds himself in a department store that has a candy counter run by an incredibly stupid woman. Naturally, she and George hit it off.
By the way, Mr. Yellow Hat is constantly leaving George on his own, even though he should know that any time George is left alone, mayhem ensues.
The candy counter lady realizes that she’s running low on supplies so she leaves George (a monkey!) in charge and traipses off, in the middle of the day, to get supplies. Supplies she should have realized she needed earlier. Doesn’t she ever do inventory? Can’t she temporarily close the candy counter? Can’t she have the supplies delivered?
Nope, she leaves the monkey in charge.
What had been a slow day at the candy counter suddenly becomes very busy, now that the human has left. Do any of the customers find it unusual that there is a monkey waiting on them? Do any of them consider that the monkey, being a monkey, may have difficulty comprehending their orders? Of course not!
George makes a huge mess of the candy counter and ends up giving away almost all the candy. Somehow the moronic humans thought he was giving away free samples. But what was George to do? He’s a monkey!!
The numbskull gal finally returns. She sees her station in shambles and realizes that George (the monkey!) had given away so many free samples that, even if she sells all that is left, she won’t be able to afford new inventory. She’ll have to go out of business.
George is sorry and says something in monkey language. I think it translates to something like, “What did you expect, dumbass? You left your business in the care of a monkey!”
This is PBS cartoonland after all, so nothing really bad happens. Somehow, despite her certainty of bankruptcy, she gets so many customers because of George’s samples give away, she stays in business. I don’t know how she managed that. Talk about voodoo economics.
Seriously, one of the biggest problems with the PBS kids’ shows is the fact that no one ever really gets in trouble. With the exception of ‘Arthur’ on which the kids get grounded or some other consequence for carelessness or bad behavior, PBS cartoon characters are always just forgiven when they say they’re sorry. “Oh, that’s ok. It was an accident.”
My wife has said that she thinks PBS is more concerned that kids understand they should apologize for mistakes or bad behavior. I agree that is important, but it’s also important that kids learn that careless or bad behavior may result in loss of privileges or trust. Why adjust your behavior if all you have to do is say, “Sorry” and all is forgiven?
But, in Curious George’s case, what can you do? He’s a monkey.