When I was pregnant with my first son, way back in 2001, I had no intention of ever letting him watch television. Expose my precious baby’s developing brain to the mindless crap that spewed from the idiot box? Not I!
Instead, I would spend all day, every day lovingly teaching him to calculate sums with the wood abacus I’d handcrafted out of the olive tree in our yard. The olive tree that was nourished by my buried placenta, of course.
That grand notion didn’t last long. In fact, it disappeared the second I realized that the idiot box was an unpaid babysitter who let me spend a few minutes alone to finish a thought and put my shirt on the right way. After that, I loved kids’ TV! Yay for kids’ TV! Kids’ TV was the best! Well, some of it, anyway.
Because while my boys had many favorite shows during their toddler/pre-K years that I, too, enjoyed, there were a number of them that made me want to scrape off my skin with a dull butter knife while tonelessly humming funeral dirges from Medieval Europe.
Here, in no particular order, are the worst children’s TV shows from the 2000’s that made my life a living hell.
Looking like what happens if a human were to be impregnated by a tub of Play-Doh, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po are the non-verbal stars of a show best enjoyed if you’re under the age of 3 or an adult riding the train to heroin town. The Teletubbies have televisions in their tummies, and gaze at a giant baby face sun whenever a windmill is not summoning them to frolic. Wow, exciting. But one time Jerry Falwell famously called Tinky Winky a “gay role model,” so who knows; maybe I missed a lot of the deeper Teletubbies subtext.
Want to recreate this “award-winning” (?!) show at home? Glue plastic eyeballs to your knuckles and shout words like you just learned English on the subway this morning. Boom. Done. Starring “non-fur muppets” or “skin puppets” (two phrases I would expect to see on the backs of Lithuanian XXX tapes), this moronic show once made my distraught husband actually say, “Now I wish I didn’t have hands.”
3. Lazy Town
I don’t even know where to begin with Lazy Town. Some of the characters are animated/CGI, some are real actors, and the hero and villain both look like pervy John Waters if he were a gymnast who bought his clothes from TackyCircusPants.com. This show is supposed to encourage kids to eat healthy and exercise and not be lazy, yet it also calls fruits and vegetables “sports candy.” Wha? But I will say that it always made me lose my appetite and run away from the television when it was on, so — mission accomplished!
4. Max and Ruby
Max and Ruby are bunnies who were abandoned by their parents, and now they live alone until the state finds out and brings the van. Max, the mute younger brother, is a sociopath waiting to happen, while his older sister Ruby will one day drink herself to death because of her raging control issues. That said, years of being subjected to this show helped me perfect an excellent Ruby voice that I now use to terrify my children whenever they’re relaxed and happy.
The three Doodlebops are a pop band from Canada whose aim is to get kids up and dancing to their positive music. They also look like the last faces you’ll see before you’re strangled to death by bath salt sniffing addicts at Burning Man.
I am 100% anti-gun. I have never even touched a firearm. However, if a shooting range ever offered up the chance to blow away a giant stuffed replica of Barney, a dinosaur who talks like he’s missing 15/16 of his brain and who sings the most annoying friendship song ever sung in the history of the free world (including That’s What Friends Are For) well, guess what, people? Right.
On paper, this show that was created by the Avenue Q and the Spamalot people sounds like a winner. In reality, watching a turtle, guinea pig, and a duck with a speech impediment go on missions to rescue animals will make you want to file an abuse report with PETA. Yes, I’m se-wee-us.
8. The Wiggles
The Wiggles are grown-ass men from Australia who sing songs about fruit salad and dress in primary colored shirts and the black pants usually found on waiters at Chili’s Grill & Bar. I actually thought they were kind of okay until a friend of mine described, in vivid detail, the erotic dream she had about the Red Wiggle. Then, I could no longer let my children watch them because, ewwwww. Where did he learn to do those things?
9. Little Bear
This animated show based on the Maurice Sendak book series is actually very sweet. However, you may agree that after repeated viewings, the helplessness of the characters can get a little tedious. Case in point: During the episode in which Little Bear and Duck stood on a river bank fretting about how they’d never, ever get across the water, my own mild-mannered father finally snapped and screamed, YOU’RE A BEAR AND A DUCK. SWIM, YOU MORONS. JEEZUS H. WHY AREN’T WE WATCHING SESAME STREET? That about sums it up.
So there you go. That’s my list. What kid shows made you wish TV had never been invented? Tell us so we can all share in your unhappy memories!
Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger living in Austin with her husband and two kids. You can follow her on Twitter @WendiAarons, and find her work in pubs including McSweeney’s, LifetimeTV.com, the US Weekly Fashion Police (she’s that funny!), on Austin’s NPR station KUT, and in her column on Alpha Mom.