Soapbox: Kids TV

With political correctness having gone mad, Sarah Doran reminisces about when kids TV was worth getting up at dawn for

Modern children’s TV wouldn’t incite the nineties generation to bounce out of bed. In the days of Ray D’Arcy, children’s TV presenters were somewhat awkward yet exciting individuals. They made slightly questionable jokes and had bumbling conversations with kids who regularly spewed unexpected, embarrassing lines. Today however, presenters are like robots; speaking in a condescending tone at a pace similar to that of an elderly nun’s Nissan Micra.

On-air sidekicks prove equally infuriating. The days of Podge the postman, a particularly petulant puppet who dared to de-sanctify Santa Claus and deem D’Arcy an “eejit” on air, are a distant memory. Witty and often cynical characters such as Zig, Zag and Zuppy were replaced by a sanctimonious safety-conscious sock monster.

Tinky-Winky and the gang’s arrival was a major “eh-oh!” Whilst shows like Two of a Kind and Hey Arnold!had encouraged children to think for themselves, the arrival of the Teletubbies heralded a new era. In the comedic realm, insipid writing allowed ointment, pimples and grandma’s hygiene issues to constitute humour. The writers at Dan Schneider’s ‘Bakery’ have much to answer for, having produced an unimaginative, mould-infested batch including The Amanda ShowDrake and JoshZoey 101 and iCarly.

It seems that somewhere during the nineties to noughties transition, children’s television lost its cheekiness: not to mention its faith in the intellectual capabilities of its target audience. Children are no longer deemed intelligent enough to handle anything substantial. Despairingly watching kids struggle with simple questions on mid-term favourite Quiz Zone, I asked myself: “Were we really this clueless?” It seems modern children’s TV has done little but breed a generation of unimaginative young individuals.

Sheltering these intellectually undermined children now seems the priority of parents and television executives. Katy Perry felt the wrath of the protective parent when her escapades with Elmo were pulled from Sesame Street: her brand of Princess dress was deemed unsuitable for the young minds of tomorrow. The “scandalous” scenes are still available on YouTube.

Ted, the panda who sporadically attacked Ray D’Arcy on The Den, would be deemed a controversial figure in modern children’s television. His inappropriate brand of violence would doubtlessly damage delicate minds and warrant weeks on the naughty step, but did it do us any harm? Well… it’s probably too soon to call that one.

Originally published in the UCD University Observer October 19th 2010


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