Above: An ad for the kids’ TV show “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitsu”
Let’s face it: as we get older, our tastes in what we like to view changes. As we hit our late teens to mid-20s, we’re able to watch things we may have been banned from viewing as kids, i.e. movies with violence, bad language, nudity, drug use, etc.
And even if the things we like to watch don’t have these elements, there’s still an air of coolness about being able to watch something with a complicated plot, or deals with heavy issues we ourselves are going through. We like to think that what we like to watch in our older years are much, much better than what those younger than us our now watching.
But then, something happens to most people that effectively changes their viewing habits: they have kids.
Now, some people will continue their regular viewing habits regardless of if they have a rugrat now running around their house. But for most parents who are looking to raise kids that are somewhat wholesome, they suddenly realize that allowing their kid to watch something Mommy and Daddy can watch – like a cokehead having intercourse in an orgy while shooting bad guys in their faces – might not be the best thing to let their 2-year old do on a regular basis (or, like, EVER for that matter).
This realization can be a drag for parents, i.e. adults who really aren’t looking forward do having to watch hours of seemingly moronic, repetitive programing that features oh-so simplistic lessons about things they’ve already learned about (“Oh look, it’s a show about potty training!” “Oh look, they’re singing the alphabet again for the 26th time!”).
Sure, they’re happy to see their kid watch these programs and smile and laugh… but after watching it hundreds of times in a row (because kids LOVE repetition), the adult may end up wanting to have an unexplained TV accident occur that doesn’t allow for it to be viewed.
Fortunately, there ARE creators of kid content out there that understand the best way to have a kid show become popular is by making stuff that both kids AND adults will want to watch together.
These are the types of shows that often have 2 levels of understanding: level 1, where a kid can enjoy the bright colors, songs, and characters of the show; and level 2, where the dialogue and/or situations allude to things in their world that only they as adults will get.
A good example of this is a show like Veggie Tales. They have talking vegetable characters that are zany, sing great songs, and teach kids about things like God, sharing, the importance of loving others, and so on. At the same time, though, most of their show plots are parodies of things adults may have seen that their kids haven’t (i.e. The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, just to name a few). And many of their jokes are things that allude to said movies or other pop culture references more familiar to an older generation.
Right now, my personal favorite is a show called “Ninjago,” courtesy of the Lego company. Whenever I have to babysit my Godson, it’s one of the few shows his Mom got for him on DVD that I actually look forward to seeing. Again, the show is colorful, the characters are likable, and the dialogue is funny yet tolerable.
At the same time… I mean, come on, it’s a show about friggin’ Lego NINJAS! Who wouldn’t like watching something with Ninjas and weapons in it!!
Ah, having kids shows available that are entertaining to adults… now THAT’S something to be thankful for!
-Aaron P. Taylor