I never thought I would find myself saying "when I was a kid" as often as I do, but here I am. Where the conflict comes in is that I'm still a child at heart or rather an immature adult. Nevertheless I grew up on cartoons and my son is following in my footsteps. He's lucky though, there's a world of cartoons out there beyond basic cable. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or the endless parade of cable channels (well not anymore in our house, we cut the cord. Booya!) gives him access to pretty much anything he wants.
But is that a good thing? No...no it leads to a lot of crap.
In hindsight the cartoons I immersed myself in and I do mean immersed myself in (My parents thought I was deaf because I sat in front of the TV and ignored them. Took a specialist to tell them I was just not interested in talking to them. I was too busy watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fuck with Shredder to really care.) were providing a decidedly different message.
Let's take a look at some of the shows my son has taken a shining to. I'll let you be the judge, based on my biased opinion of course, of these shows.
1. Masha and the Bear
When I tell my parent friends about this show they look at me like I'm insane and have a terrible taste in cartoons for my son. Well, they'd be correct on both accounts, but this lovable duo is actually a Russian cartoon. I'm pretty certain we've drawn the attention of the Trump administration and Mark Zuckerberg, but the show is harmless.
Or is it?
The show is centered around a toddler aged girl who lives alone in a converted traincar/shanty that is literally right next to the tracks. She's got a few pets. There's a pig who wants to kill itself, a dog who wants to kill itself and a goat who wants to kill itself. Why? Well because she treats them like absolute garbage and there disdain for her comes right to the forefront in episode 1. Each goes running and shakes in absolute terror as she emerges from the house. But perhaps the most horrific thing about her is that it's never explained what happened to her parents.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding her parents and the horrible treatment of the woodland critters pales in comparison to the daily torment to puts Bear through. Bear is a retired circus bear that can literally do anything he wants; builds houses, conducts science experiments, plays hockey and performs magic. Yet, he can't escape Masha. She ruins every fucking thing he does without remorse. Season one is collection of tragic events she perpetrates against him. His crops are destroyed at least once, he suffers a concussion and she totally cock blocks him from this fine piece:
What isn't pictured is the huge black bear that must of been creepily watching this go down from behind the bush. Oh wait here he is:
I could go on about this show and the WTF that goes on episode after episode, but I'll leave you with a final thought. There's an episode dedicated to Masha trying to jam needles into this pair of homeless wolves butts. Staring watching around the 4:24 mark. It's in Russian, but there's no language barrier for this level of fucked up.
2. PJ Masks
Let me begin by saying I HATE this show. It's cute I guess, but the writers should be ashamed of themselves. I know everyone needs to start somewhere, but FFS this is just ridiculously hot garbage and they know it. The plot is always the same no matter what they just changed which one of these kids forgets the lesson from the previous night.
I could go on about how it's a show where the parents are inexplicably absent, but there not. There are adults all over the place, but these three kids are called upon to do everything. The question I kept asking myself as I watched was, what are they going to do when these kids inevitably grow out of their pajamas? Can they make new ones? If so, why don't any adults just do that very thing?
The stories revolve around the exploits of three different villains. Luna girl who as the name suggests, deals with moon related stuff and moths (luna moths get it?). Then there's Night Ninja who well...is a ninja who fights at night. He's got his posse of ninja oompa loompas or whatever. Then there is of course Romeo. Can you tell me what night based pun he's based on? No? Well, that's because he's a scientist kid with a robot friend. The villains naturally want to take over the world, but their means to do so are often puzzling. There's an episode where Night Ninja steals a trophy in order to draw out the PJ Masks. He then challenges them to a series of comedic stunts with the hopes of winning their headquarters in a gamble then take over the world. No explanation needed.
As I mentioned earlier the toughest part about this show is the fact that each of the heroes turns into an overconfident douche at the onset of the episode and the story can't resolve until they are taught a lesson and band together. Because if you're confident in yourself apparently you always fail. So if you're feeling cocky make sure you dial it back.
The worst part about all of this is the fact that this show is teaching my son the beginnings of the "friendzone." I mean you watch the show for five minutes and you'll know without a shadow of a doubt that Owlet and Catboy (super creative names btw) will undoubtedly end up together and Gecko will be the third wheel. Catboy is the taller of the two male characters and tanner. Gecko is strong, but slow and sort of dumb. He'll find love someday, but it won't be without a few nights of awkwardly watching his friends make out on the worn out sofa in his parent's basement.
3. The Adventures of Puss In Boots
Somewhere along the line Netflix called up Dreamworks and said "hey you remember that cat who wears the Uggs?" Dreamworks naturally dug out the script and said they were done with the series as a movie franchise. I didn't see the original one, but I remember the doughy-eyed kitty cat from the Shrek movies. It was great in small doses, but much like the Cleveland Show it probably shouldn't have been made.
Yet, it persists.
Puss is voiced by none other than......Eric Bauza. Not our dear Antonio who has time for crapfests like Automatica, but not enough time to voice Puss. It's either that or he read a few scripts. The stories are out there and characters that are loosely based on either mythological beings or a writer's bad acid trip. At some point they all become friends too for reasons that as an adult are unclear to me. If you can clear up that's fine, but keep it to yourself.
The best character in the show by far is the town's old crazy man. He's an alchemist but he's forgetful and says senile things that only make sense to him. There's also the fact he's the only macrame owl maker in the town of San Lorenzo. Occasionally Puss will call upon him to whip up a potion but he'd rather fuck it up.
The white cat in the image above is Puss's love interest, Dulcinea. Dulcinea is also the peasant woman in Don Quixote that Quixote falls in love with. I don't really recall if she could look past his wanton desire to make her "his lady" but at for Puss there seems to be a shred of hope. It might have to do with the fact he's the only other cat in the town for most of the show, but I could be wrong.
The hardest part about the show is that Puss is a bumbling idiot. It's become a common trope over the past decade or so to have the hero of the show act like a complete dope yet come out on top. It reminds me of the sitcoms where the dad is only funny because he screws up all the time. It's getting old and this cartoon manages to mimic that painful plot line.
I'm not saying that the children's programming from my youth was much more insightful, but it couldn't have been worse right?