In Her Words
Dishing up Noggin
Parents’ thoughts on children’s shows
By: Clarice Joos
I’m having an animated phone conversation with a friend, an over-40 father of a toddler. I’m an almost-40 mother of a toddler and a preschooler. And what hot topics are we adults dishing about? The Eliot Spitzer scandal? The national foreclosure crisis? Britney Spears (ad nauseum), even? No, the burning questions at hand are, “Where the hell are Max and Ruby’s parents?” and “Why does Laurie Berkner’s band have a new guitar player?”
That’s right, Noggin (“It’s like preschool on TV”), has taken over … first our televisions, and then our minds. In my friend’s home, it’s on almost 24/7, and in mine, during several scheduled hours a day – a difference in parenting style that we don’t debate. What we do debate is what kiddie music video rocks the most and what shows we actually kind of like, even though they’re geared toward viewers under age seven. Here are some highlights from our Noggin dish session:
(The aforementioned) Max and Ruby: My 4-year-old’s long-standing favorite is a whimsical cartoon about Max, a three-year-old bunny, and his seven-year-old sister, Ruby. In true birth-order stereotype, Ruby is tidy and serious, and Max messes up whatever she’s doing, but always with a good outcome. What bothers us is that you never see their parents, except in a family picture on the wall. Ruby is essentially Max’s mother. (That’s probably what makes Max so appealing to my son.) Ruby tries to make Max do what he should, but he cleverly gets his way. My friend and I think Bunny Protective Services should investigate ASAP. One major drawback: Unlike the ubiquitous Dora and Diego, there are very few licensed Max & Ruby products available.
LazyTown: Several moms I know have confessed to a crush on Sportacus, the show’s hero, who encourages physical fitness and healthy habits to the candy-swilling kids of LazyTown. Magnus Scheving plays Sportacus, is the show’s creator and also sings the theme song. With all those talents, biceps and that cute accent (the show originated in Iceland), I can see the appeal. I’m personally intrigued by the show’s villain, the slothful Robbie Rotten, and wonder what lies beneath his prosthetic chin and drag-queenish makeup. But then, I’ve always had a thing for bad boys. My friend and I agree that Stephanie, the perky pink-haired heroine, reminds us of Tiffany, the ’80s pop star.
Jack’s Big Music Show: This is my friend’s personal favorite (he’s a musician). The puppet show is basically a forum for kid-music videos, with occasional celebrity cameos like Cheryl Hines, and well-known musicians like Buddy Guy and Lisa Loeb. The Laurie Berkner Band, who rose to fame on Noggin, is featured, and regular viewers will notice a recent change to their lineup. Laurie’s bass-player husband, Brian, has been replaced, and we don’t know why. My friend has a mad crush on Laurie, so he’s hoping it’s personal.