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.