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Don’t Worry, Modern Parents can Trust That Their Kids Have had Good Influences… At Least In Terms of TV

Inspirational Kids TV Shows: Modern parents have a lot to worry about, regarding their kids are going to grow up in a safe world. Although we can’t give today’s children reassurance that the future will be brighter or safer, we can give them some awesome TV shows to watch while the world is uncertain of many things. All of us will proudly claim that our generation had the best shows to watch as kids. 80s kids had Inspector Gadget, 90s kids had Rocko’s Modern Life, and 2000’s kids had SpongeBob.

I’m not here to argue that anyone decade of kid’s TV was best. However, in the 2010 era of kids’ TV, there was a change in the way kids’ TV operated. Suddenly, more complex and rich storylines started appearing in kids’ TV. While, in the past, most children’s programming tended to stay away from more emotionally driven plotlines and aimed more to entertain than to get the youngins thinking and relating to character, now the shows trust that their audiences can handle richer storylines and still entertain. 

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In addition to that, animators for kids’ shows are now using more diverse styles of animation. This allows kids to think past what they’ve seen in Disney movies with their homogenous style of animation and see an animation for the beauty it can produce and the imagination it can inspire. Together these things make for a generation of TV that is unique and more progressive in style than generations past.

LGBTQ Representation and Exposing Kids to Real World Diversity

LGBTQ representation is a touchy subject in kids’ TV. The medium is often heavily policed by conservative parent groups so it’s difficult to showcase gender and sexual diversity in the world of children’s entertainment. That was until  Rebecca Sugar creator of Steven Universe came along. Sugar said at 2016’s San Diego ComicCon that a good portion of her creative work on the show is inspired by her own experience as a bisexual woman.

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In an article published by Entertainment Weekly, Sugar speaks of the uphill battle she faced working towards LGBTQ representation on kids’ TV. “When we started doing this in 2011, it was impossible and it has become possible over the last many years of working really hard to do this,” Sugar explained in the article. In July of 2018, Steven Universe made history by airing kids’ TV’s first lesbian marriage proposal, and just days later the first lesbian wedding.

Animation to Inspire a Generation of Creativity

The Amazing World of Gumball premiered in 2011. It’s about a blue cat living with his pink bunny dad and his weird orange some-species-or-other best friend. Pretty run of the mill stuff. The exciting thing about The Amazing World of Gumball is that it uses such a wide variety of animation styles. From stop motion to anime to hand-drawn, this show can’t seem to settle on one type of animation. 

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Perhaps even cooler than that, the show occasionally uses fan art and animation. That means when the show was running that if a kid happened to be a fan and submitted their drawing online, they could see it on the show. This is awesome because if a kid sees their work on TV, they could realize that they have what it takes to be an artist or an animator or what have you. If a kid’s talent is recognized, acknowledged, and supported, they are more likely to have the courage to pursue it.

Female empowerment to the Max: Great Female Characters

Feminism is a word that’s used and misused time and time again. The philosophy of Star Vs. the Forces of Evil makes it simple, girls deserve to go on the same epic adventures as boys. The show is about an alien girl who must defend the world from evil while balancing something close to a normal life. According to a Comicverse article, Disney has a tendency in recent movies to exploit feminism for profit and to curry favor with its more PC audiences. 

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The problem with having empowered female characters in movies is that there are only 2 or so hours to flesh them out and make them real people. But Disney Channel got it right with this show. In Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, the audience had 4 whole seasons to get to know Star as the strong little girl, or the extraterrestrial equivalent that she is.  

Wander Over Yonder is a tragically short-lived show on Disney Channel. The show is about a little orange alien who eagerly helps anyone in the galaxy who needs it. The character Lord Dominator is the main antagonist of the show. There aren’t terribly many female villains in kids’ TV shows. I had to look up this list to think of any, and even then, most of these villainesses are just villains who inherited their role on TV thanks to their role in a movie. Seriously, why do guys get to have all the fun?

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Inspirational Kids TV Shows

I am not promoting that girls should have evil role models but villains are the ones who get to break the rules and be rebellious. Having no female villains promotes the stereotype as old as time that women should be seen as more virtuous and pure than men which, give me a break.

Lord Dominator is not just an original villainess, she breaks all the molds of the majority of female villains we see in entertainment for kids in general. She’s not vain, instead, she’s hyperactive and wants to create chaos. Normally, only the male villains get to be dark and ominous in kids’ shows but Lord Dominator is genuinely scary, especially from a kid’s perspective, and isn’t animated with beauty in mind.

The writers also shut down all the “shippings” of Lord Dominator as soon as they could after they popped up on social media. The show made it clear that Dominator is the definition of a red flag and she doesn’t need a man. 

So, there you go, kids do have good influences from their TV shows and we are here for it. Please keep more of it coming. 

By Carrie Fishbane

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