The Decline of Good Children’s Programming

July 13, 2009

This is primarily an industry blog, but at times I intend to discuss other subjects near and dear to my heart (such as horror movies, as per my previous post). One such subject is live-action children’s programming and cartoons. Namely, how bad it’s gotten.

I may sound like a codgy old fart, waving my cane while opining about the “good old days,” but hear me out. Disney has become a cesspool of Generic Teenager(s) Dealing With Life shows, Nickelodeon has followed suit, and even Cartoon Network has added a live-action block to their lineup, filled with generic faux-reality shows and other unoriginal imitations of adult shows.

Yes, Cartoon Network is phasing out cartoons. And the cartoons that air today on all three networks are bland, unoriginal, uninspired, dumbed-down pieces of shit. Correction: on the Disney Channel, the cartoons are the same as the live action shows, except the main character has superpowers or something.

What happened to Nicktoons? Where’s Doug, and the Rugrats, and even fucking Ren and Stimpy? Where’s the Animaniacs? I can understand Bugs Bunny no longer being relevant, even if it does sadden me, but fuck, where’s Spider-Man and Batman? What happened to the Cartoon Cartoons on Cartoon Network? The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Lab, Johnny Bravo. Hell, I’d even take Cow and Chicken at this point. Disney had DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, Rescue Rangers, Aladdin…sure, they always included Disney characters but at least they could be relied upon to be well-animated, family-friendly without being completely superficial, and at least somewhat smart.

What happened to the Nickelodeon gameshows? Family Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple? Where are shows with a creative premise, like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or The Secret Life of Alex Mac? Even the Spunky Teenage Girl/Boy Dealing With Life genre was more interesting when I was growing up–I loved Clarissa Explains It All and Pete and Pete. In fact, Nickelodeon pretty much ruled as far as the live-action side of things went. I’m not sure what happened, or when it began to decline, but goddamnit, it needs to stop.

It’s not that we didn’t have shows like what’s on today–Boy Meets World and Saved By The Bell come to mind. But we had more variety, and the message of every single show was not “Grow up, grow up, get a boyfriend, get a girlfriend, have sex, be a living fucking Barbie doll, fuck school (ok, well maybe not that one), fuck creativity, fuck imagination, conform, and while you’re at it, buy this shit because Miley Cyrus likes it.”

When I have kids, what the hell am I going to show them? And don’t tell me “Turn off the TV and read a book,” because you’re preaching to the choir–I’m a big reader and my kids will be as well. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t watch TV growing up or that I expect my kids to go without. I suppose I can hope that some of these shows will be on DVD by then, because if the industry doesn’t shape up, there’s not going to be anything left worth watching.

For more information, check out the following articles:

Cartoon Network Ditching All-Toon Format

Cartoon Network’s Non-Animated Push Comes With Risks

More News About the Network Formerly Known as Cartoon

For ways to act, check out STOP THE MADNESS

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2 Responses to “The Decline of Good Children’s Programming”

  1. Spencer Downing Says:

    Normally when I see “Decline of Children’s” television, my eyes begin rolling up in my head. People often have this idea that there was some golden age of “good” programming (i.e., the stuff they watched as kids) and all the stuff out today is crap. It’s a lot like people think about SNL. I’m not sure I agree with everything you say, but you make some really good points. Looking back, it does seem like the days of the shows you mention, not to mention “Pepper Ann” and “Carmen Sandiego” were pretty great. Thanks.

  2. Craig Says:

    Spider-Man, Batman and the like are still around, but their timeslots have been shifted. Generally you won’t find the “older” kid’s shows in the same block with the rest of them. Positive side is that parents don’t have to worry about “It’s X:30 and now I have to make sure my kid changed the channel.” Down side, is if you get stuck in a block of the other stuff, you’re waiting a while before TV becomes good again.

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