Monday, April 03, 2006

Why I Hate Higglytown Heroes

An essay by an annoyed parent.

Playhouse Disney has a relatively new concoction out called ‘Higglytown Heroes.’ It’s all about these four kids and their (nanny, babysitter, chaperone?) squirrel. The kids (and squirrel) learn all about the community heroes all around them. Heroes include firefighters, police officers, playground monitors, waiters, garbage truck drivers, etc. It’s not a bad premise and works to teach kids to appreciate the many community workers that make our society run well. S. loves it, and I find it mostly tolerable with one giant exception.

The show’s big gimmick (besides a talking nanny, babysitter, chaperone? squirrel) is that the town, people and animals are all nesting dolls. They are constantly splitting in half with other characters, animals, objects popping in and out of their innards. This combined with the fact that their arms are constantly appearing and disappearing weirds me out a bit. However, I own a few sets of Russian nesting dolls that S. loves to play with and can look past that bit of weirdness.

The next bit of irritation goes to Disney’s inability to put together a children’s show that doesn’t involve regular bouts of bursting into song about whatever random activity happens to be going on. The most annoying song involves extreme repetition of ‘Raking up all the beautiful leaves, ‘ and I would give a great deal to be able to go back in time and NEVER HAVE HEARD THAT SONG EVER, EVER, EVER. Since the kids’ singing voices are significantly less nerve-grinding as Barney’s, I can usually get past the incessant singing.

I can even look past the kids always referring to Mr. Kip’s Dad or Mrs. Police Woman or Mr. Truck Driver or Miss Playground Monitor or Pizza Guy or Mr. Whatever-job-is-highlighted-in-today's-episode. I mean really, doesn’t anybody have a name on this show besides the four kids and the (nanny, babysitter, chaperone?) squirrel? The (nanny, babysitter, chaperone?) squirrel as the primary source of childcare is weird as well.

No, the big thing I can’t stand in this show is the biggest kid’s aunt and uncle. Eube lives with his aunt and uncle who raise parrots. They constantly finish each other’s sentences and speak with the most astonishingly atrociously horrid fake southern accents it has been my displeasure to hear (and I have heard a lot, hey Hollywood, can’t you hire the occasional REAL southerner once in awhile?). Any time Aunt Mellie and Uncle Lemmo come on, I want to do violence to my tv. It’s awful.

I’ve grown accustomed to non-southerners thinking that I’m a little ‘slow’ because I happen to speak a little slowly. When I was in high school, I learned that bigotry is NOT limited to issues of race and religion. One of my teachers was from the northern US and absolutely despised me and the other southerner in his class (a really sweet girl from Alabama). We bore the brunt of his prejudice and bullying, but it has left me perhaps a trifle sensitive to portrayals of southerners (like the way many New Englanders behaved following the 2004 election, which I won’t get into here).

All that to say, that I cannot abide it when nutty southern characters aren’t even given the dignity of a decent accent. Hey, Disney! find somebody with a real southern accent, please? Pretty please? Pretty, pretty, pretty please?



Builder Mama said...

I am so with you on hating HH...that damn squirrel just drives me over the edge. Isn't the voice that woman that played the secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Every time I hear that squirrel I think of Marge and that big red bouffant hairdo.

And the southern bias...I actually had one of my (northern) clients tell me one time that I was the smartest person they'd ever met with a southern accent. All I can say is 1.) it was one of the worst comments EVER and 2.) if they thought I was the smartest, they must have talked to some really really really stupid southerners.

Rant over. Down with HH!

Tree said...

LMAO! Totally agree with you and HH! And the accent thing. Since I have moved to the south, I have developed an accent.

Keith said...

I really, really hate HH. It's my least-favorite kids' show ever. Twinkle always comes up with a bad idea, and the others are careful not to ruin her fun. Avoiding bad ideas is as valuable as having good ideas.

My kids have exactly zero interest in Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, The Muppet Show, or Bugs Bunny. They love these irritating ones.

Keith said...

"The most annoying song involves extreme repetition of ‘Raking up all the beautiful leaves.'"

Thanks so much for reminding me. I suggest lyrics were better when we were kids. Current examples:

"I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'M THE MAP!!!"

"Fruit salad, yummy yummy.
Fruit salad, yummy yummy.
Fruit salad, yummy yummy.
Yummy yummy, yummy yummy, fruit salad."

Anonymous said...

Okay, I just have to disagree. DD LOVES HH, and to me it's one of the least annoying kids shows out there. I'll give you that Aunt Millie's accent is kind of ridiculous (but it's Uncle Zooter she's married to. Uncle Lemmo is Wayne and Twinkle's Uncle). DH and I get the biggest kick out of it just because it's so not-annoying. Now, Doodlebops, that's one that DD loves that I can live without. And there are absolutely NO Wiggles in our house, ever. Her other "stories" are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Jojo's Circus, and Little Einsteins. I really appreciate how these shows teach them things like manners, counting, music, even good fitness and eating habits (Feelin' Good with Jojo and Adventures in Nutrition with Captain Carlos). I guess to each his own, but I just had to throw in my 2c's in defending one of DD's shows. In fact, I only found this discussion because I was googling HH birthday decorations for DD's 2nd bday coming up.

Jessica said...

Thank you to whomever left the comment under anonymous..... There is absolutely nothing wrong with Higglytown Heroes, I get up with my daughter every morning to watch this show along with Mickey Mouse club house, Little Einsteins, My Friends Tigger and Pooh, and the other shows that come on. I am very happy with the fact that my daughter enjoys this show, it happens to be the one that gets her attention the most. I also happened to run across this while searching for birthday party supplies for my daughters first birthday. I am also smart enough to realize that when you look around, most children happen to call adults by their childrens name like "Mr. Kip's dad" my sisters friend children do that all the time, and they are not the only one who I have heard do this. And the "bad ideas" that Twinkle always comes up with are not so much bad ideas but they are her having an imagination. Something that all children should have, and the others not hurting her feelings by saying that it was a bad idea is teaching kids manners, it shows them not to be rude and crush the hearts of other childrens just because they came up with something that could not possibly happen. What irritates me the most about your post is the fact that you do not even know what character are what yet you are sitting here bashing the show. Would you rather your children only have shows to watch like, Spongebob, Ed Ed and Eddy, or any other shows that do not teach your kids something. You should be greatful of the fact that Disney is putting out shows to teach your children things like manners and exercise along with eating right, and counting. Anyway I completely disagree with you here and just wanted to make sure that you see my point of view about how truly wrong you are. Maybe you should sit with your children watching nick or cartoon network for a week untill you truly appreciate the shows that disney puts out.

Anonymous said...

I have a daughter and son and they both HH. Its a great show and they can learn some great skills by watching it. As for everyone not liking the songs and they think its annoying and all the whining. Maybe you shouldn't have children bc most of the kids shows out there have that so just get over it! If you don't like it don't watch it!

Leslie said...

I just love how defensive these people get over a comment made about a television show. Who cares.

I have watched HH many times and have no complaints, it has good values and what more can I ask.

Try spending two days shopping for supplies for a barney birthday party, you will never look at purple the same way again! It was painful, my eyes hurt, but my son was happy, and that was what mattered most.

Mrs. Wheezer said...

So funny that this post is still getting comments. I do think that most current children's programming is garbage. My kids do not watch much tv. We catch Handy Manny on Disney from time to time and the occasional episode of Little Einsteins.

Interesting the recommendation not to have children if you dislike children's television programming. Does that mean everyone who dislikes tween stars like Hannah Montana should never have a child? All us crazy parents who don't like text messaging should never have kids? Should my mother not have had me since I had a love affair with purple as a teen, and Mom hates purple? Very silly comment from another member of the 'parent police.'

The thought of all that Barney shopping makes MY head hurt. I am glad the party went well.

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Devon said...

It's becoming painfully obvious that you're all in need of a little guidance, seeing as you're either against the show for all the wrong reasons or for the show because you're naive.

YES, this show is bad for children. Why? Not because of dumb songs and stupid naming conventions, but because of the obvious purpose of the show, which is to condition children into accepting the roles assigned to them in the workforce. Everyone who "works" is a hero, and only they can solve your problems. They just push a side the little purple girls ideas every time because apparently she isn't qualified. Only hard work and social acceptance allows you to be a hero.

Teaching children that there is only one way to do things and to prepare (condition) them to be obedient workers. I don't let my son watch it, it's not educational, it's dumbed down and pointless. I always laugh when a parent says "harmless", in other words, it's a good babysitter since I'm to lazy to pay attention or care about my child. I don't let my son watch "harmless" tv shows, what I let him watch are shows that teach him to use his imagination, be creative, be and objective and critical thinker. To ask questions and not conform to the norm. Our society is already so backwards enough without this crap on TV.

Anonymous said...

I am ten and I disagree with most of you. I love hh even now.its not on anymore so I'm really sad

Tralfaz said...

Looks like HH got taken off the air, probably much to the joy of most people who have posted here.
My 5 yo loves this program and I hated it at first (the nesting dolls and the fact that their hands are just painted on when they aren't using them; and they have no legs so but still ride bikes; is weird) but the show grew on me a bit. Don't know if it's gone for good but they just replaced it in the 11:30 AM time slot with Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I never saw the accents as southern. There's mountains nearby the town and it gets cold, so I saw it as midwest. And Fran's accent and mannerisms are Wiscomsin/Minnesota. It's interesting that they still have stoner characters like Pizza Guy. I would have though the war on drugs would have eliminated that.