Recently I was sitting down with my family to watch tv when my little brother suggested we watch a show we had never seen before called Bluey. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Bluey is a children’s show about a little blue dog (no, not Blue’s Clues). At first, I thought the show would be a bit too juvenile for us to enjoy, but my whole family actually ended up really liking it. It got me thinking about how the writers were able to balance child and adult humor without necessarily crossing the line into risky territory, and I think that it set a standard that networks should be seeking to meet. Children’s show networks should seek to appeal to a better balance between children and parental viewers with their shows because it takes both parent and child in order to accumulate an audience for children’s shows.
Now first off, I think it goes without saying that children’s shows should be engaging for children. There’s never really been a question about that, as I think most kids’ shows are really successful in that regard. But one area where they could improve has to do more with representation. I believe there should be more representation in children’s media. This is a really important subject because we live in a diverse world, and when we only show our children one facet of the population, we are only offering them a sliver of what exists. More representation in children’s tv shows means more children will feel seen and heard and be able to learn to overcome their own unique challenges, as well as how to help their peers who may be experiencing similar ones. By representing more kinds of people and families, children gain a wider worldview and grow into more open-minded individuals.
While the stress placed on children’s approval ratings is very important, parental approval should also be heavily considered when curating these shows. After all, without parents, these shows would have no viewers. Parents don’t have to show their kids anything they don’t want them to see, so their opinions matter too when it comes to securing a market that will be profitable. And now I’d really like to turn your attention back to that show Bluey because I feel that it does a really good job of balancing child-like wonder and parental humor. The show focuses on the titular character’s family rather than solely on the character’s solo adventures. It acknowledges the role of parents in a child’s life and how they can share experiences together. It is likely the reason the show has such a high approval rating among parents, with Buzzfeed rating it the least annoying on a list of 17 popular children’s shows. Other shows that strive for a child-parent approval balance are Peppa Pig, Puffin Rock, Doc McStuffins, and The Loud House, to name a few. The latter two of which earn extra brownie points in my book for a larger commitment to representation.
Ultimately Networks should be seeking a balance. It takes parents to turn on the tv, but it takes kids to actually sit down and watch it for parents to keep it on. This key balance can be tricky for networks to master, but thankfully there are some good shows out there leading by example.