On explaining gay people to your presumably straight kids

This just happened.

THE SCENE: We are watching the final episode of Season 2 of She-Ra. It is revealed that a character (no spoilers) has two dads.

THE BOY: Two dads?


ME: It happens.

THE BOY: Oh, okay.

End scene.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: #SHERA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER


I had He-Man toys as a kid.  I grew up in the eighties; it was inevitable.  I didn’t really pay a hell of a lot of attention to She-Ra because … well, I was a boy.  And She-Ra was for girls.  I also watched the He-Man cartoon, and I have very detailed memories of being very angry with WGN because at some point or another they chose to commit the cardinal sin of pre-empting an episode of He-Man with a Cubs game.  

I don’t think I ever watched the She-Ra cartoon.  I remember that she said “For the honor of Greyskull” instead of “By the power of Greyskull,” but I think that’s cultural osmosis and not an actual memory.  I could not have told you the names of a single member of her supporting cast prior to this week.

Honestly, I only decided to watch the show because it seemed to be pissing off a bunch of whiny manbaby manchildren, and I like it when those people’s feelings are hurt.  If that makes me a bad person, I can live with it.  

I probably shouldn’t even make this part of the CCPR series, y’all, because I loved every second of this show.  The three of us watched the first two episodes together and we had to force our son to go to bed at his bedtime because he wanted to stay up and watch more.  We watched the other eleven episodes in two big gulps over the next couple of days.  This is absolutely 100% unequivocally the best show I’ve ever done one of these pieces on, and I’m only not calling it my favorite animated series of all time because I feel like the second I hit Publish on this piece I’ll remember what my favorite animated series really is and I’ll feel dumb.

I’m not gonna lie: a large portion of my affection for this show is somewhat political.  I love what this show is as much as how it is what it is.  But before I get into that, I want to be super clear about something: the show is hilarious and touching and action-packed and the voice acting is superb and even before we get into any of the representation issues it’s a great show.  My son loved it so much that he’s created his own characters inspired by the show and he’s been drawing comic books about them and creating statues of them in Minecraft all day.  My son does not love the show because of politics.  My son loves the show because it’s awesome.

To wit: when She-Ra first turns Swift Wind, her horse, into a … pegacorn?  Unisus?  Rainbow horned wing-beast thing, the horse’s reaction to its new wings and horn had all three of us laughing so hard we could barely breathe.  Sea Hawk’s insistence on setting his ships on fire was a running joke that never got any less funny.  The relationship between She-Ra and Catra– an invention of the new series, from my understanding– is complex and heartbreaking, especially for a show where friendship is such an important theme, and it feels real.  Adora’s fish-out-of-water reaction to … well, virtually everything after leaving the Horde is great.  I love even the minor characters, with Mermista, Entrapta and Scorpia being particular favorites. The animation style, which got a lot of unnecessary abuse, is exactly appropriate for the show, and the facial expressions are worthy of The Amazing World of Gumball.  It’s phenomenal, all the way through.

But yeah.  Let’s talk about the cast.  This is what She-Ra’s cast of characters used to look like:

I mean, the two on the outside are both purple…

This is what the cast of the new show looks like:

So straight off the jump we’re in a better place here.  The cast of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is deliberately and intentionally diverse, both in the appearances of the characters and the actual voice cast.  Glimmer is actually kinda chubby, and Spinnerella is flat-out fat,and it’s never once remarked upon by any of the characters.  That’s just what they look like.  It’s heavy on women characters, as a show with the words Princesses of Power might be expected to be, but it’s not just a palette swap with typical cartoons, where the women have less agency and less characterization.  Bow may be the only male of the three principals with Adora and Glimmer, but he’s a solid character on his own right and his relationship with Sea Hawk is hilarious.

(A moment, please, to just appreciate the He-Man style of naming characters.  This show features a sorceress character called Castaspella, mercifully called “Casta” most of the time, and a character who throws nets whose name is Netossa.  And in case “Netossa” is too subtle for you, she actually explains it onscreen.  The character named Perfuma is once represented by some random object while the group is making a plan and she insists on being represented by a perfume bottle.  The names are ridiculous.)

And, oh, guys, it’s so gay.  So very very very very very very very gay.

This show is so gay it makes Queer Eye look like 19 Kids and Counting.

Bow wears a midriff with a heart on it.  At one point he needs to wear a tuxedo for a ball.  His tuxedo has a cummerbund on it.  He tears off the cummerbund so he can continue to rock his abs in his formalwear at the ball.  Which he attends with a girl, but oh my God his reaction when he realizes Sea Hawk is there.

The bad guys are literally wiped away by a giant rainbow wave of love in the final episode.

Spoiler alert, I guess.  I mean, if you didn’t know the good guys win at the end of the season.  You probably coulda guessed.  

Oh, and the goddamn horse ends up being a socialist.

You need to watch this show.  If that means you need to get Netflix, do it.  It’s great.  I can’t wait for the second season.  Neither can my seven-year-old son.  If my recommendation doesn’t work for you, take his.

Creepy Children’s Programming Review: Peg + Cat

Blog-Qustodio-PBS-KidsSo there’s a new hotness in town, as there tends to be, and the flavor of the current month is PBS Kids’ Peg + Cat.  Make sure you’re saying it right; that’s “Peg plus Cat,” not “Peg and Cat,” and it’s certainly not “Peg vs. Cat,” which is what I can’t stop myself from calling it because I’m an idiot.  Although if each episode ended in some sort of deathmatch between Peg and Cat (his name is actually Cat) that would be really cool and maybe they ought to think about doing that.

In some ways, I really like Peg + Cat, and I wish that the show’s shortcomings didn’t kill it so thoroughly for me.  Most kids’ shows are either about nothing in particular or they are about reading.  Peg + Cat is literally the only show that I can think of that is explicitly about math, and I think that’s a good thing.  You can see from the image there that all the animation is set against a graph-paper background, and you might notice that clouds are rendered as infinity signs.  The really cool bit is the calculus and algebra equations that are written into the background.  They’re never commented on, but they’re always there and I think they’re cool.  Also, smart female main character, and Cat’s personality and voice acting is entertaining.  All of these are positives.

Here is the problem, and I will freely admit that this is as much a problem with my parenting as it is with the show: my kid tends to watch multiple episodes of shit in a row, right?  So repetitiveness can kill a show really quickly for me, and of everything that he’s watched, with the possible exception of Color Crew, Peg + Cat is easily the most intensely repetitive show he’s ever liked.  The following things happen in every episode, and keep in mind there are two episodes per show:

  • Peg encounters a minor problem.  She declares, Super Why style, that they have a biiiiig problem!
  • Cat solves this minor problem immediately.  Like, this immediately:  PEG:  I’ve lost my shoe!  This is a biiiiig problem!  CAT:  Your shoe’s right there!  I’m not exaggerating.  Solved immediately.
  • Peg sings the “Problem Solved” song.  Here it is:

  • Peg and Cat encounter a second, larger problem, which Peg also declares to be a biig problem. 
  • Peg encounters difficulties solving the problem and has a moment where she is “totally freaking out!” which Cat fixes by wordlessly offering to punch her face.  Peg, oddly, always misinterprets Cat’s desire to punch her by suggesting that he has told her to count backwards from five to calm down.  This is clearly not what Cat just did.  Cat wanted to punch her.
  • Peg calms down, and Peg and Cat eventually solve the problem.  Peg sings the goddamn Problem Solved song again, except this time with an extra line where they state that everything is awesome.  Episode ends.

This has destroyed my mind, folks; that’s four biiig problems and four problem solveds per show, and I cannot tolerate that much.  The trouble is that literally everything else about the show, I like.  I like the math, I like the other songs that show up in the show (Peg plays the ukulele, and most shows involve at least one other song someplace.)  I like the fact that the show occasionally brings in science and history; Beethoven is a recurring character, and Cleopatra has shown up at least once.  Peg herself entertains me.  I like the intro theme, and the fact that they’ll mix up the song and the animation for it rather than it being exactly the same every episode.  I like the math integration.  There’s a lot of good stuff about this show.

Just don’t try to marathon it.  Because it will kill you.

CCPR update: Super Why

imagesDo you happen to remember my review of “Super Why”?  Here it is, if you want to go look at it.  Consider this post a follow-up, if you like.

TL;DR version: Wyatt (I’m still not going to spell his stupid name the way they want me to) is still a huge asshole.

Slightly longer: I’m writing this Thursday night to pop Friday morning, right?  The boy made me watch an episode of this stupid show earlier today.  The episode was literally about what a damn unredeemable asshole Wyatt is.

So Inexplicable Pig calls Wyatt on his phone-thing.  He’s building a sandbox!  Wyatt goes and finds the pig and watches him.  He asks if he can help and the pig, hilariously, says no, he’d rather build the sandbox his damn self rather than suffer Wyatt’s presence for even a single second longer.  Go away, Wyatt.

So Wyatt goes and finds the slutty one.  She’s having having a tea party with her mother.  While wearing roller skates for some reason.  She also tells Wyatt to piss off and that she doesn’t have time for him.  Then Wyatt goes and finds the one who likes vegetables too much.  She’s busy too!  I don’t remember why; it’s not important.  The important bit is that none of Wyatt’s friends want him around.

Do you know what this asshole does?  Go ahead and guess; I dare you.


He proclaims this… “A SUPER BIG PROBLEM!” and calls a meeting of the Super Readers, who are the same people who just rejected him, to investigate the problem of why none of them wanted to hang out with him.  He seriously and literally tells people who have just told him that they don’t want to be with him that they need to drop what they’re doing to help him figure out why they don’t want to be around him.

And, because this show is stupid, they actually do.

The super story answer, by the way, is “CREATE.”  In other words, “find something else to do, idiot.”

I hate this show.

Creepy Children’s Programming Review: Super Why

super-whyYou may consider this Part Three if you like; there are other reviews of children’s shows here and here.

Super Why, with the possible exception of Harry the Bunny, is my least favorite show the boy has ever liked.  I hate it.  I hate its theme song.  I hate its smarmy-ass punk main character.  I hate its premise.  I hate its messages.  I hate the fact that a show about spelling and words has a main character whose name is “Whyatt,” which is misspelled.  And, incidentally, I won’t be spelling his name that way at any other point in this review.  Because it’s stupid.

Everything about this show is confused and screwed up.  The story starts in an actual, real-world library, right, with actual people wandering around and looking at books.  Then Wyatt pops out from between some books.  He’s, like, three inches tall.  He beckons you back between the books and go into his world.  I don’t know why he has to have his own world or a portal to the real world, but whatever.  Then he wanders around until something happens.

Important detail: Wyatt is a huge goddamn drama queen.  It doesn’t matter how simple or solvable the thing that happens is.  Wyatt’s got a damn rock in his shoe.  There’s a leaf in the road.  It’s slightly warmer outside than he would like it to be.  Wyatt will pronounce this “a SUPER BIG PROBLEM!” and command a meeting of the Super Readers to solve the problem.  You, the viewer, have already figured out that he needs to shake the rock out of his shoe, or walk around the leaf, or take his fucking sweater off, but no, Wyatt’s gotta be the center of goddamn attention and make a huge production out of everydamnthing.  And he’s seriously a dumb sonofabitch, too.  One episode was about how a character was angry and somebody didn’t know why.  The answer (SPOILER ALERT!) was, honest to god, after dragging all his friends all over the goddamn place, that they should ask him.

hate him.

Anyway, yeah, he and his dipshit friends have to solve the SUPER BIG PROBLEM! using their “powers.”  Right, he has three friends who I didn’t mention: there’s a pig, and I’m not sure why there’s a pig, because there are no other talking animals in the show.  But there’s a pig.  There’s a girl who is frighteningly obsessed with vegetables.  And the slutty one.  They all suck.  Wyatt makes them all go to the “book club” so that they can use the SUPER DUPER… COMPUTER! to solve their problems.  See that ellipsis?  There’s a dramatic pause before every use of the word “computer” on the show.  It happens about fifteen times an episode.  So they have to transform into superheroes and use “alphabet power” and “word power” and “letter power,” maybe, I dunno, they really seem to overlap, and then there’s you, and you have the “power to help,” which doesn’t fit thematically with the rest at all.

Here is how they transform: they wear different clothes.  The pig is still a pig.

Anyway, the vegetable-obsessed one uses her magic (there’s magic, too) to choose a book, and then the three-inch library people jump into the book, so that they can find “super letters,” and the “super letters” get fed into the SUPER DUPER… COMPUTER! and then they get their clue, once the computer unscrambles the letters?  And this show was designed by a meth-head, right?  Because none of this shit works at all as a unified concept.

But, right, once they’re inside the book (they fly into the book, using flying rockets, that appear nowhere else in the show, because sure they do) they have to solve a problem for the characters in the book while they’re looking for their super letters, so there’s those problems to deal with, and those problems are usually stupid too.  The slutty one sings a rhyme song, the pig builds things with letters (?) and I can never remember what the vegetable one does.

Then the seriously shitty part happens.  Wyatt has the power to read, right?  Because that’s a “power,” not something that everyone should be able to do, which is kinda fucked up in its own right.  Wyatt solves problems by changing the words in the book.  So if Little Red Riding Hood is eaten by the big bad wolf, he just uses his magic word-changing power to change the word “eaten” to “tenderly made love to,” but only after checking first that, like, “rinsed” doesn’t make sense, which it never does.  Then Little Red Riding Hood’s story is changed and she’s happy and they find the last Super Letters and they pop back out into the real world– except it’s not the real world, it’s three-inch library-weirdo world, which you can get to from the real world.

This is where the door from “Balremesh” really went to, by the way.

But that’s fucked up, right?  And they usually use real fairy tales, which they fuck all up anyway in the retelling, and then this dude literally uses the power of censorship to rewrite the parts of other people’s stories that aren’t convenient to him so that his SUPER DUPER… COMPUTER! can spell out TURN YOUR SHOE OVER, DUMBASS and he can spill his rock onto the ground and go about his day without inconveniencing his friends any further.  Then there’s a godawful song about how the Super Readers saved the day, only they didn’t, because there was never really a problem in the first place, because Wyatt is a drama queen and did I mention I hate him?

Because, seriously, I hate him.