Agreed Mondoo, there is so much trash on TV! There are a lot of things I would not want my baby to watch either. But your list made me think of how I would want to mold my child’s tastes and humor before she was overly influenced by commercials, bratty rich kids and talking chihuahuas, and how would I do that? Well, if I had my way and all the cherished shows and movies from my childhood were still relevant and available, here is what I would feed my kid:
Sesame Street: There’s no substitute for this classic. It was on Sesame Street that I learned not to eat crackers in bed, not to make fun of garbage men, and what a sneaky jerk that letter H is. Sesame Street has been mostly solid for all of its 40 years of production, except for those weird Elmo years, but that’s more than you can say for The Price is Right, which is nearly as old but completely sold out when Drew Carey took over.
Blues Clues: I’ve seen this show while I was babysitting and I’m a fan. It’s about a big blue dog who hides thing from his endearingly sweatered master. Songs are sung, numbers are counted, friends are made. All in all, a good message.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: You saw that one coming. I think it’s important for children to learn about socio-economic stratification and how to adapt to entirely new situations and still maintain your values. It’s also important to learn that you aren’t limited to music when you choose to pursue a rap career.
The Adventures of Pete and Pete: Why was this show so funny, and why was there never anything else like it? I remember watching Pete and Pete at age 11 and being relieved that there were other people in the world who thought the same things were funny that I did. This is a good introduction to irreverence.
ET and Flight of the Navigator: Kids need to see these movies so they can believe for a while that extraordinary alien-related things can happen to ordinary children. If I hadn’t seen these movies I would have missed out on about half of the plotlines to my invented game, Star Wars Barbie.
Let the Right One In: I’m just kidding, this is SO not a children’s movie. It’s about Swedish vampires. I was just thinking about it because my book club recently read the book so at our book club meeting this week we watched the movie. Like most movies I’ve seen after I’ve read the book, I was disappointed at all of the things that were left out, but this movie really did leave out a ton of stuff. Not just incidental stuff either, like entire characters and story connectors. I guess I was expecting an 8-hour movie or something. Also, Oskar was supposed to be fat and he wasn’t fat.
Airplane! and Spaceballs: Someone I work with was just talking about showing Airplane to kids and I think it’s a great idea. What’s funnier than these movies? Nothing! This is a good introduction to effective use of cheap humor. Namely slapstick and puns. Kids needs to learn to be responsible with easy humor because it’s so easy to misuse it and turn it into a Rob Schneider movie.
There are tons more great movies and shows out there that kids should be exposed to early on, so feel free to suggest some. Remember, it takes a village.