If you asked my children what their biggest complaint is about me as a mother, I am willing to bet that they will say it’s my rules about what they can and can not watch on television. (Although, the fact that I won’t let them play video games during the week is probably a very close second). I’ve always been extremely picky about what I’ll expose my kids to on a daily basis; my theory is that I may not be able to control what they learn from their friends, but I can definitely control what they learn from the obnoxious characters on certain Disney shows. As a result, my daughter missed out entirely on Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place and That’s So Raven. Sass Academies, as one of my friends calls them, on account of how her daughter learned from these shows everything there is to know about being sassy.
I won’t lie – the three years between five and eight were rough ones for my daughter and for me, too. All of her friends watched these shows, and she felt really left out when they would talk about them in school or at birthday parties. And when she went to sleepovers or to playdates, it was embarrassing for her to have to say that she wasn’t allowed to watch them. But I told her a long time ago that the excuse of ‘all my friends are doing it’ is never going to work on me, and that if she wants something, she’d have to think of a better reason than that. Unfortunately for her, she never did come up with a better reason, so I remained unconvinced, and she remained un-allowed to watch them.
Now that she’s nine, however, I’ve started to ease up a bit. I feel like she’s old enough now to understand that ninety percent of what tv kids say would be considered disrespectful in real life, and I trust her to know the difference. So I’ve begun sifting through the shows, ruling out the ones I think are just horrible, settling on a few that are just slightly awful, and finding one that I actually love. So, in case you were wondering, here’s my list, along with a short critique of each.
1. iCarly. Overall, a cute show. My biggest complaint, however, is that the adults are always portrayed as total morons who aren’t nearly as smart as Carly and crew. Why are the teachers all mean and horrible and stupid? Why does Freddy’s mom have to be so strangely overprotective? Why doesn’t anyone else have parents?
2. Wizards of Waverly Place. I hate this one, and only reluctantly agreed to it because my daughter has the same name as one of the characters and people are always talking to her about it. But I’m sorry, Alex is just not a nice girl, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to be friends with her. A point I make to my daughter on a regularly annoying basis.
3. Shake it Up. Two words: Gunther. Tinka. Seriously? I don’t get it.
4. Sponge Bob Square Pants. Funniest. Show. Ever. If only they didn’t use the word ‘stupid’ so much.
5. Good Luck Charlie. This one I love. It reminds me of the classic, 1980’s family sitcoms. It’s like a funnier version of Family Ties, or a less raunchy version of Roseanne, or a not-quite-so-earnest Cosby Show. Any way you look at it, it’s great. If my daughter grew up to be half as adorable, sweet and responsible as Teddy, I’d be thrilled. I have no idea how it always happens, but this is the only show our DVR ever manages to record. The others always seem to get erased, somehow…