Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: CURIOUS GEORGE

pds_16993268_curious-georgeThe boy has been diversifying his television viewing habits lately, there’s no doubt about that; we’ve moved away from talking crayons and melodramatic censors and onto a few different programs, several of which probably deserve their own entry here.  But Curious George is absolutely his current favorite.

Now, for the most part, I don’t mind this show at all.  I was a big fan of the Curious George books when I was a kid, although at the time there were only a few of them, and the show itself is not really that bad.  Eminent blues/zydeco musician Dr. John provides the intro music; William H. Macy did the voice-over for the first season; there’s some quality stuff going on here, and if you ignore the core ridiculousness of the show it’s pretty easy to get along with.

But man, that core ridiculousness.  The show never gets into the fact that the Man with the Yellow Hat is a poacher who stole George from the wilderness.  Two of the main characters are scientists and they still insist on calling George a monkey when he is clearly an ape; he’s an orangutan, by the way– lots of people want him to be a chimpanzee; chimps are black and George is brown.  He’s an orang.  Deal.  The fact that most of the characters are cool with an ape being around and the fact that the city the Man lives in has no health department of any kind are also just sort of taken as given.  Also, sooner or later George is gonna hit sexual maturity, rip the Man’s face off, and masturbate with it.  That doesn’t come up often either.  As kids’ TV shows go, I can deal.

And then there’s Bill.  Bill is the one thing keeping this show from Sesame Street territory where I’m just as happy to watch the show all damn day as the boy is.  The Man’s job is unclear; it involves sciences somehow, but sometimes involves just impressing actual scientists with his ridiculous, childish drawings, and twice they’ve tried to send him into space.  At any rate, whatever he does, he has enough money that he has an expensive-looking high-rise condo in the city and a country house as well.  The country house, judging from the accents of everyone around and the amount of snow it gets, is in Minnesota, although they drive there from the city all the time and the city is clearly not in Minnesota and appears to contain Central Park.  But whatever, right?  Kids’ show.

When George goes to the country with the Man, he gets to hang out with Bill.  This is Bill:

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Bill fucking sucks.  I’ll get to why in a second, but let’s start with what’s interesting about Bill and to some extent the show in general:  Bill was white during the first season.  He’s now… that.  The show is really good about diverse casting, really; side characters are almost always people of color, especially in the city, and a number of the main ones, including Bill himself, are as well.

Right, though.  Bill.  Bill’s a bigot.  And he’s a bigot in an especially annoying way; he’s the biggest know-it-all on the show.  There is nothing in the universe that Bill doesn’t know more about than you do, and nothing that he won’t take half an hour to tediously explain, always arrogantly and frequently incorrectly, although the show doesn’t seem to recognize that he’s wrong a lot.

Bill is the only motherfucker on the show who doesn’t know George is a monkey.  Let that sink in for a second.  This know-it-all genius asshole doesn’t realize that that’s a monkey.

Well, okay, ape.  Still.

What does Bill think George is?  A “city kid.”

What’s a “city kid?”  An uneducated moron, apparently.  There is nothing– nothing— about George that Bill won’t immediately attribute to George being a “city kid,” and I think this is something that started out being intended as a cute affectation but after 630 hours of listening to him it’s actually a serious problem with the character.  He’s a huge fucking bigot.

George wants to sail a boat.  City kids don’t know anything about boats!

George participates in a corn maze.  Let me incorrectly talk about “maize” for ten minutes; city kids don’t know anything about vegetables.

George wants to enter his worm in a worm race.  City kids are too stupid for that!

The phrase “city kid” or “silly city kid” is literally probably 10-15% of Bill’s dialogue, which is a lot more than it sounds.  They won’t let him get through a scene without a “city kid” reference.  Now imagine someone substituting literally any other description of humanity in for “city kid”– “woman,” or “black person,” or “Latino,” or fucking anything— and you should see how goddamn awful the character is.

I like Curious George a lot.  But God do I hate Bill.

Published by

Luther M. Siler

The author of SKYLIGHTS, THE BENEVOLENCE ARCHIVES and several other books.

16 thoughts on “Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: CURIOUS GEORGE

    1. Siler’s Law: as any discussion of children’s programming continues, the chance of someone making a disparaging comment about Caillou very rapidly approaches 1. I’ve never seen it, but it seriously must be the worst kid’s show ever.

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  1. Thank you for your first visit to my commentator and poetry site with your first like. I like your blog. It tells it like it is with no pussyfoot adjectives. It takes courage to relate to your true feelings. It seems these days most of the folks I met are actors in the play of life. There is no soul in who they really are.

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  2. Don’t parents ever watch the TV shows their kids are learning from? Why does every kids show have to be idiotic – ?? No wonder kids can’t read, write or even speak clearly?

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  3. OK I know you wrote this a long time ago, but I just have to say thank you. My son has been watching Curious George for 2 weeks pretty much whenever he can, and I mostly love the show, but I cannot stop yelling at Bill every time he is on the screen. I also always make a point to tell my 18 month old son never to be a dick like Bill, because Bill is a pain in the ass and nobody likes him.

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  4. I love this! Bill is the worst, but I do kind of feel like he’s an accurate character though. Setting the bigotry aside for a second I feel like he is like a lot of kids who were a little older than me. Promotions stupid know it all. In the shows I think that the Man in the yellow hat is an heir to a modest fortune, hence all of his hobbies and etc. in the books it’s more fun to imagine home as an alcoholic/absentee parent. Great post

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  5. So on point! I watch the show with my children. Me thinks Ted hasn’t been charged with kidnapping an endangered animal while he tears property up because: money. I despise Bill – he’s a douchebag. I wonder if the animators giving him a Jersey Shore tan so that he is an indirect animated Mike “The Situation” Whatever.the.hell.his.last.name.is. I just wanna punch em in the throats.

    You know what else ticks me off – that dog Charkey (Chalky?), the little black dog; I’m guessing a Cocker Spaniel/Labador mix perhaps…shrugs

    Chalky’s owners – kids with zero adult supervision – always walk him with no leash or barely have any grip on one, doesn’t listen to simple commands like “sit” and “no, he runs amok, destroying shit – he’s worse than George…at least the orangutan tries to fix his mistakes.

    What makes zero sense is when one or both of em fucks shit up – they’re congratulated for it or their destruction is passed off as “art”? Wtff (What the flying fuck) It’s really weird that the people in the show is completely and willingly oblivious to the collateral damage Charkey and George cause. That damn dog needs behavior training, to be neutered, or get some doggie poontang.

    Dr. Wiseman was is an older scientist dude in the classic books…why in the hell did they make him into a woman? On a forum I frequent every now then, someone wondered the same thing. A commenter answered that the creators of the Curious George show pulled a Bruce Jenner. sigh I really can’t with most people.

    If Charkey and Bill (worst additions) were removed from the show – neither would be missed.

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