The Worst Kids Shows on TV

Editor’s note: this post was originally written in April 2011.  Some of the shows might be a little dated, but my passionate hatred for them still burns just as bright.  Enjoy!

My kids watch TV.  Entirely too much TV, in my opinion.  It pains me to say this as a librarian, but it’s true.  It’s one of those things you think you definitely won’t let your child do (before you actually have kids, that is).  But then your kid discovers how awesome Sesame Street is and you discover how awesome it is that your kid stays in one place and quiet for a solid hour (no commercials on kids shows!  High fives for whoever came up with that idea!) and it’s all over.  The TV viewing time just keeps inching up and up until your child has staged a complete hostile takeover of your television.  This means that, by default, you are now a regular viewer of whatever shows your kid(s) wants to watch.  Some shows are tolerable — Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba! come to mind — but others just make me want to gouge my eyes out instead of watch one more second.  This list is dedicated to every piece of crap kids show on the air right now.  This list is in no particular order; after all, a turd is a turd, am I right?  Does it matter if a turd is less smelly than another one?  OK.  Enough about turds.

1) The Fresh Beat Band:’s-fresh-beat-band

OK, I know I said this list wasn’t ranked, but just the simple act of searching for and uploading this picture got me really, really angry, so fuck it: they’re Enemy #1.  Just look at these dickheads.  We’ve got the token black guy (who, BTW, is the only black person I’ve ever seen on this show), a girl that looks vaguely ethnic (I guess the viewer gets to choose?), a dorky white guy and an a redhead.  Right now you’re thinking, “Hold on, Janel.  Is that your only problem with this show?  The casting?”  Oh no.  Ready for their names?  Dorky white dude is “Twist” and black guy is, I’m not kidding, “Shout”.  Twist and Shout, get it?!?!?!  AHAHAHAHA!!!! The ginger girl is “Marina”, and the other girl is “Kiki”.  The only thing more obnoxious than their names is their acting.  It’s your typical annoying over-acting that you see on live-action kids shows that I absolutely cannot stand, and my kids absolutely love.  They’ll probably go apeshit the first time they watch Star Wars Episode I.  I can’t stand listening to them use corny phrases like, “Cool beans!” and “Kicking!”  Here’s the weirdest thing about this show, though: during their goodbye song-and-dance routine, they always have these weird mini-versions of themselves come out and dance with the regular versions.  It’s not explained.  It just happens.  Try not to have nightmares, kids!

2) The Upside-Down Show

Oh. My. God.  I’m actually kind of thinking about reordering this last and making this one #1.  This show is so fucking annoying I can’t stand it.  It used to make my two-year-old cry whenever it came on.  When I first saw the name of this show on the channel guide (at the 11:30pm time slot, I might add — guess I’m not the only person who thinks this show sucks), I thought it might actually be a show that had something to do with being upside down, and could possibly be funny or interesting to watch (relatively speaking).  No such luck.  I think it’s called that because it’s an Australian show, but who the hell knows.  These two assholes live in a wacky house where every room you go in has some kind of theme, like “The Doggy Room” or “The Outer Space Room” or whatever.  They “give” your kids the remote and ask them to push certain buttons, like the “play” button or the “Irish dancing” button.  Again, it’s just listening to these two dudes “talk” that makes me “hate them so much” (I know, I went crazy with the quotations marks on this one).  Seriously, watch this video and tell me you don’t hate them too.  If you do watch it and don’t find this to be the most annoying thing you’ve ever seen in your life, we can’t be friends.

3) Caillou:  I don’t feel as strongly about Caillou as I do the other shows; I just feel like this is one of the most boring kids shows I’ve ever seen on TV, along with the next two entries on my list.  Nothing really happens on this show: Caillou goes to school, or he plays with his sister, or one of his friends comes over.  It’s like Seinfeld for kids, except not funny or clever.  To make matters worse, Caillou is kind of whiny, and not exactly exciting or talented.  Caillou’s only defining characteristic is that he’s four years old.  Big deal, dude; my kid’s going to be four soon, too, and last time I checked, no one was beating down her door and offering to animate her day-to-day life.  Also, it’s not like you did anything spectacular like time-travel or take magic grow-up potion to become four years old; you just grew up.  LAME.  He has no hair (for some unknown reason), which is weird, but not necessarily a reason to dislike him.  I just think, Caillou, that you need to talk to your parents about getting you involved in some activities, dude.  You seem to have a lot of spare time on your hands. 

4) Little Bear

Upon seeing this picture, you may be thinking, “I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing about this show, but that looks like the bear on that Orajel commercial!”  Yep, that’s him.  This show is so boring and unmemorable that you probably HAVE seen it before, but still had that same thought. Same as Caillou, the storylines are just boring.  There’s nothing particularly creative about the show’s characters; in fact, I bet you could figure it out yourself: Little Bear lives with his bear family in the woods, and his friends are — you guessed it — other woodland creatures.  Not even wacky woodland creatures: they’re all nice enough, I guess, just dull.  They just do run-of-the-mill kid stuff at a pretty slow pace.  I believe they played a game of “Simon Says” in real-time during one episode.  Nothing unusual; they just played until someone won.  The end.  It’s probably a good show to watch if you’re trying to sneak in a nap on the couch while your kids watch TV.

5) Franklin*

 *see entry for “Little Bear” and substitute the word “turtle” for “bear”.  It’s the same show.

6) Oobi

Now THERE’s an image that’s going to keep you awake tonight, right?  I can’t fucking believe this is a real show.  That’s Oobi.  He’s the main character.  He’s got a little sister, a grandpa, some friends, etc.  Every character is a hand with googly eyes on it.  To make this even weirder, everyone’s name is messed up (Oobi, his friend Kaku, his sister Uma, and his grandpa, Grampu) and no one talks in complete sentences.  It’s this broken-down baby talk, like, “Oobi, you, friends!” or, “Oobi hold baby?”  There was an episode where Oobi takes care of a real puppy, and the look of sheer terror on this dog’s face while some dude’s hand gave him a “bath” was hard to watch.

7) LazyTown

This show is another one that, the first time I saw it, literally made me recoil from the screen.  It’s so creepy.  I’ve never really been able to figure out the exact premise of the show, except that it seems like the “good” characters seem to exercise a lot?  Oh, and also some of the people have PLASTIC FACES AND HAIR, and I can’t tell if some of the kids are puppets or humans wearing rubber faces.  If you’ve ever heard the phrase “uncanny valley” and want to introduce your children to this concept, show them this show.  The kids/puppets kind of remind me of the scary puppets in that Phil Collins video.  That video freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid.  I’m still afraid of Ronald Reagan.  Maybe that’s why I’m so scared of this show.  However, we do have that pink-haired girl and Lil John to thank for this.

8) Imagination Movers

I have a very low tolerance for live-action musical children’s shows, if you can’t tell by now.  I don’t like The Wiggles either, but I don’t get that instant feeling of “Oh, hell no” when that comes on the TV like I do when The Fresh Beat Band and this show come on the TV.  So, here’s four more dickheads singing and dancing like idiots, except these guys are actually supposed to be adults, which makes them more annoying for some reason.  Wanna meet them?  Yeah?  Great!  I’ll introduce them to you!  Let’s see, there’s Goggles Guy, who I think is supposed to be like a child-friendly version of a stoner; Red Baseball Cap, who looks and acts like Steve Zahn; the skinny dark-haired guy who apparently is the only guy who doesn’t get to wear some kind of head accessory; and Cowboy Hat, who likes to talk to the other three guys in a super-condescending way.  Like he’s SO much better than his friends.  I got news for you, Cowboy Hat: being King of the Dipshits still makes you a dipshit.

9) Max and Ruby

Ruby is Max’s older sister.  Max and Ruby apparently have no parents, since they are never shown nor mentioned on the show.  Ruby is a raging bitch who is consistently rude, bossy, and generally inconsiderate towards Max’s feelings or needs.  Max is a passive-aggressive little bunny who is usually forced to either figure out a way to get around Ruby or inadvertently ends up helping Ruby by doing exactly what she tells him not to do.  When the former happens, Ruby doesn’t seem to learn her lesson; when the latter happens, Ruby rarely thanks Max for his help.  Here’s a typical episode: Ruby lectures Max about how they are going to the store to buy Max a new pair of overalls because he is a slob and ruined his old pair.  When they get to the store, she tells Max he can’t try on an awesome dragon t-shirt, because they only have enough money for overalls.  Ruby then immediately proceeds to try on THREE FUCKING DRESSES while Max has to sit and watch.  She even asks him how she looks in each one (I told you!  She’s such a bitch).  Fed up, Max wanders off, puts on a dragon t-shirt from the rack, and gets ice cream all over it.  Ruby is then forced to purchase the dragon t-shirt for Max.  Well-played, Max; well-played.

Honorable mention:
Peter Pan

Beware: I’m now stepping up on my rarely-used soapbox.  I know Peter Pan isn’t a TV show, but I had to mention it.  This is the one Disney movie that makes me cringe whenever Phaedra asks for it.  If you haven’t watched it since you were a kid, sit down and re-watch it before you let your kid watch it, or at the very least, do a Google search for “Peter Pan racism” and see what you find (I wish I had).  You may have an issue with the song, What Makes the Red Man Red? and the way Native Americans are portrayed in the movie.  Women aren’t necessarily shown in a very flattering light, either: Wendy isn’t allowed to participate in the pow-wow dance at all because she’s a “squaw”; she has to gather firewood instead.  Tinkerbell is not the same Tinkerbell you see now in modern-day Disney movies and cartoons; instead, she’s very much the vain, spiteful, vengeful female stereotype.  All in all, there are too many scenes to list that made me stop and think, “Whoa, is this really the best movie for my kids to be watching?”  It’s a charming snapshot of a bygone era, when women were too dumb to vote and the men-folk protected them from those pesky Injuns.  Sigh.

Alright.  Let me get down off my high horse now and turn on yet another crap TV show for my kids to watch.

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33 Responses to The Worst Kids Shows on TV

  1. Brit says:

    This is fantastic.

  2. Patrick says:

    so, so excellent. the only kids show i’ve seen lately is dora the explorer, and i have a hard time stomaching that…i kind of want to watch these to see how bad they are; but, then, i kind of don’t 😉

  3. Janel says:

    Dora is pretty annoying, for two reasons: a) she is constantly shouting at you instead of talking in a normal voice (Rob pointed this out to me), and b) everything is repeated to excess. The map literally repeats the three locations Dora has to go to not three times, but like six or seven times. I GET IT, MAP. Forest, mountain, Blueberry Hill. It’s not like I need to memorize this shit. I’VE GOT A MAP.

  4. Tracy says:

    Dora is annoying reason c)She’s blind as a bat!! Swiper is right f**king next to you!!! Why do you keep asking us if we see him!?

    Thanks for the Calliou hate. That whiney little brat is the #1 most despised in our home. Google “hate Calliou” sometime. There is pretty funny stuff out there.

    Try and steer them to Phinneas and Ferb. My 3 1/2 year old loves them, though I don’t think she really gets it and I don’t really care. I found myself telling her to shush the other day because I couldn’t hear what was going on.

  5. Jessica says:

    OMG Thank you for writing this. Thank God for us we only get Nick, Disney, Sprout, and PBS. I don’t know half these shows you mentioned, but I totally agree with a couple of them.

    I have a dire HATRED for Callou. He is a whiny baby with allopecia and his parents baby him because of it. Then his sister is about 11 months old and talks in nearly complete sentences. Makes me look at my babies and think they’re behind. That damn show makes ME question my parenting.

    The worst of the freakin’ WORST is Max and Ruby. Though, I did put on Facebook my theory about that show several months ago. I honestly think that Ruby is severely mentally disabled, and Max is her son. The reason why there are no parents is because “Grandma” is really Max’s grandmother and Ruby’s real mom. She’s a bossy little brat to her brother/son because she knows she’s his mom. Poor Max needs to get himself emancipated from crazy bunch of weirdos in order to make it in the true hardcore bunny world.

  6. Brenna says:

    First let me put this out there: did you ever meet a no-TV kid growing up who WASN’T a weirdo? I rest my case on that issue. Second, we only have basic cable and I LOVE Martha Speaks. Each morning one of my favorite things to do after I snort coffee grounds is yell, “HYPERVENTILATE” at the appropriate time in her theme song.

  7. Janel says:

    Good point about weird kids. I feel much better.

    Also, HOLY SHIT I DO THE SAME THING WITH THE MARTHA THEME. It used to crack Phaedra up. I tried memorizing the whole list, but it’s too hard and I don’t really get past the first word or two, before I hit, “HYPERVENTILATE!” During the few months after Bella was born when I wasn’t working, I had the PBS lineup memorized. “No, Phaedra, it’s Tuesday. Barney’s only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

  8. Glad to see that I am not the only one who cant stand Franklin or Little Bear. Some of these shows I have never heard of, thank heavens. As for Calliou, i didnt even bother with that show.

  9. Unknown says:

    Caillou, Little Bear, Franklin? And you say Yo Gabba Gabba is not annoying? Also, why are all of these baby shows? C’mon, you can at least put more effort into this list.

  10. Janel says:

    I’m really sorry, Unknown (cool username, by the way!). I’ll try harder next time.

  11. Ria says:

    My husband and I agree these shows sucks but our son like it a lot.

  12. wondermommy says:

    Love, love, love it! Its like you crawled into my head and harvested all the negative thoughts about my child’s viewing choice, and put them to paper(screen). I was actually in the process of watching the Upside Down Show, when I Googled “Upside Down Show annoying” just to make sure there were other sane people like me that literally mouth WTF like nine times while its on. I do have to add that if Yo Gabba Gabba its on this list, you just haven’t had the displeasure of watching it enough. They trick you by peppering in relevant celebrities, but then they sing a really stupid song and your opinion of their coolness instantly plummet. Thanks for the rant! Always good to know I am not alone.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe Oobi is on tv. It teaches kids to speak in incomplete sentences. I can’t stand that show! On top of it they are creepy. There is a lot of bad kid shows out now but that is the worst I think and Yo Gabba Gabba is second.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You are right on about Max and Ruby. Worst show possible for bossy big sisters with little btorhers.

    As for Peter Pan – the passe elements of it kill me but my daughter loves it. Peter Pan is now bigger than any Disney Princess in our house. I just try to discourage the public singing of “off to fight the injuns, the injuns, the injuns” when we have to sing Following the Leader to successfully navigate through the grocery store without a meltdown.

  15. TNMom says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I used to love these shows when I was younger. FML

  17. Janel says:

    Awww. It’s cool, buddy. Everyone has dark TV secrets. I used to love Murphy Brown when I was a kid. True story.

  18. Jenn says:

    Yes to all!!! I’ve done two of these, and I somehow forgot almost all of the ones you mentioned. I think I hate Calliou way more than you do, though.

  19. Janel says:

    Jenn, that’s entirely possible. I’ve discovered that feelings run pretty deep about Caillou. I just find it hilarious that such a boring, borderline whiny kid inspires such deep-seated rage in the hearts of women who can tolerate much worse shows.

  20. Jenn says:

    What I don’t get is why everyone’s hating on Yo Gabba Gabba. I couldn’t WAIT for my son to be born and get older so we could watch it. YGG haters, why?

  21. Janel says:

    Giiirl, I completely agree. I LOVE Yo Gabba Gabba. It came out when Phaedra was a baby, and it’s kind of grown up along with us. Sometimes I’ll check out the info on the episodes recorded on the DVR to see who the musical guest is. “Oooh, The Ting Tings! I’ll watch this one.”

  22. Jenn says:

    I LOVE the Ting Tings! Did you see them on SNL? Try Hulu if not… She works so hard. Records and plays back her own backup vocals while singing and playing a drum!

  23. I finally saw the “dragon shirt” episode of M&R this weekend and I had to pull up this post and tell you. Ruby was even bitchier than I imagined! “Max, those overalls are DISGUSTING.” Definitely the best/worst episode of that god-awful show.

  24. Shawn says:

    Watch Handy Manny. Close your eyes and listen. He is polite, seems easy going, can fix anything, doesn’t complain, always helpful, playful, sexy little laugh, and manly
    ..HOT, HOT, HOT!!! I don’t care if my kids don’t like him…I own the T.V.

  25. Sydney says:

    It is very sad that you all choose this to complain about: shows that teach your children. You all are parents. I’m an 18 year old who group up with these shows, and you’re teaching your children that just because something is “boring” it means that it is bad. If shows, like little bear and Franklin, that teach you lessons, like being a decent human being, is just plain boring to you, then it is no wonder that our country is on a downward slide. I feel sorry for your children…hey maybe next time your want your children to get more excitement and education from tv, sit them down with you while you watch Game of Thrones or Walking Dead. Will be a better source of entertainment?

  26. rudibega1 says:

    I throw up in my mouth a little bit when Peppa Pig is on…the stupidist, one side of the face pigs ever…and they SNORT every time they talk. Ugh! Horrible
    Don’t care for Dino Dan either.
    Awesome BLOG Janel!

    • Hahaha, I remember how much you dislike that show! Peppa is actually one of our favorites here. Bella asks all of her questions in a British accent, though, so we should probably lay off the TV for a bit.

  27. Natasha says:

    I looove yo gabba gabba ha thats my shit. My 2 year old monster is only allowed to watch disney jr, she loves mickey mouse, princess sofia and doc mcstuffins (which I love that its on tv because my daughter is mixed and she has doc bedding and doc toys and clothes) the ones I cant stand are octonots (sp?) and sherif calligh occasionally we’ll watch dora or bubble guppies but disney jr lasts us all morning and we always miss the good shows on nick jr lol

  28. Jennifer M. says:

    OMG…….I love this post! Max and Ruby…Where do I start? Max only says ONE word the whole entire episode! And Ruby bosses EVERYbody around! Someone needs to kick Ruby right in the vagina! Don’t even get me started on that whiny ass Calliou. What in the fuck kind of name is Calliou anyways!? I HATE that show….and my hubby loves it! Go figure….. How about Daniel Tiger? He’s a whiny brat too. And that stupid cat on there has to say meow meow after everything she says. So stupid! Shows I do love….Martha Speaks! And I loved Word Girl!

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