Children’s TV shows are supposed to be wholesome and educational – or at least mindlessly entertaining enough to serve as a de facto babysitter. But while everything seems all smiley and harmless on the surface, look a little deeper at some of the most popular children’s shows and you’ll find a secretly disturbing world that you would do anything to protect your kids from in real life. Don’t believe me? Well check these out, eight popular children's TV shows that were secretly creepy.
Let’s just break this one down – four turtles get infected by nuclear waste and are transformed into sentient anthropomorphic mutants who live in a sewer where they are taken in by a giant rat who teaches them ninjutsu. That sounds more like a really fucked up episode of The X Files or Fringe than it does a kid’s show. But even if you get past all that, you’re left with four giant turtles who instead of dealing with the fact that they are FOUR GIANT MUTANT TURTLES are basically enslaved by a giant rat who uses them as his own crime fighting army and gets them hooked on pizza, probably forcing them to stalk the streets at night until they either get gunned down by criminals or suffer a heart attack from all that artery clogging cheese. Frankly, this is more messed up than The Wire.
The Care Bears are basically just a cult. No matter what the problem is, according to them there’s only one answer: love. Car breaks down? Heal it with love. Dog just died? Eat this love sandwich and everything will be okay. Evil tyrant trying to destroy the world? Overpower him with love shot out of your chest. No, really, that’s how they deal with bad guys, with the infamous Care Bear stare. They all gather together and using the power of love, they shoot beams of light from their chests until their enemy is subdued and enslaved, brainwashed into being just another acolyte of the Care Bear Love Cult. Someone should get the ATF to burn these freaks out.
Here’s the premise for Mr. Wizard’s World: an eccentric old man invites little kids over to his house where he conducts science experiments with them and then takes them down into the basement and chains them to a wall where he conducts his own private experiments. Okay fine, that last part may just be implied but don’t tell me that this whole thing isn’t creepy. First of all, why is an old man so invested in just doing science experiments in his home for no reason? I mean, I get it, retirement can be boring but come on, go to the beach or take a vacation. Second, would you really let your kids just stroll on over to creepy old science guy’s house all by themselves so they can “experiment” with him? I didn’t think so.
The emergence of the infamous and abhorrent “Brony” culture (bros who are really, really into My Little Pony for, uh, reasons) has made this show retroactively creepy. But even if you leave aside that sort of external creep factor, My Little Pony was still creepy for one big reason: each pony’s (and let’s just leave aside the inherent creepiness of sentient ponies) personality could be determined by looking at a special symbol tattooed on its ass. Not only is the idea of having your personality tattooed on you creepy in a Schindler’s List kind of way but it also teaches kids that the best way to learn about someone is to just stare at their ass. That’s not a lesson they’re supposed to learn until puberty.
Barney is one of the most popular children’s characters of all time which makes sense when you consider that he is exactly the sort of creature that seems like he crawled out of hell giggling into your nightmares. Wait… what? Yes, the idea that Barney is anything other than nightmare fuel is bizarre. He’s a giant purple dinosaur with a permanent thousand yard stare and a creepy high on goofballs laugh who coos at children in the voice of a dude who hangs out in the back of a van dangling candy. But even underneath the creepy exterior, you’re left with a freak who’s so obsessed with love that it’s all he cares about. Like the Care Bears, any problem in the world can be solved with love. Love, love, love. He’s a love fascist, indoctrinating impressionable kids with love propaganda songs and leading them to all be part of his “family” which honestly sounds an awful lot like some Charles Manson shit to me.
This one hurts me. After all, Sesame Street is perhaps the most wholesome, genuinely educational children’s TV show out there. But that doesn’t mean it still isn’t creepy. Just take a look at the cast of characters: a vampire who dresses like a pimp and probably has obsessive compulsive disorder, an angry homeless dude who sleeps in a trash can and bickers with children, an addict whose whole identity has been consumed by his addiction to the point that he calls himself a monster, a giant bird who seems like he’s vaguely high all the time, much like a junky – I’m waiting for the episode in which he offers to suck off Mr. Hooper for ten bucks – and his best friend, a depressed wooly mammoth that only he can see. That’s who’s teaching your kids.
What in the hell is this? There is nothing even specifically creepy here. The whole thing is vaguely unsettling, isn’t it? Like there is a very real possibility that is some sort of secret program designed to turn your children into sleeper assassins or something. I wouldn’t let my kids watch this because I’d be too afraid that I’d wake up one night with them holding a knife to my throat and giggling like they just took a monster hit of nitrous.
Look, I love Mr. Rogers but let’s be honest here, what isn’t creepy about him? He has that weird I just did whippets in the basement for three hours voice and thousand yard stare going on at all times, he dresses like an anal retentive serial killer, his whole life seems to revolve around being a good neighbor to little kids and he spends all his free time playing with puppets. I’m 90% certain that poor Mr. McFeely is stuffed in the crawl space while Mr. Rogers calmly digs through the man’s mail bag looking for children’s catalogs and free panty samples from Victoria’s Secret that he can wear around the house while talking to his puppets. Just picture him whispering his theme song in your ear: “So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, since we’re together, we might as well say, would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my… neighbor.” It would almost certainly be the last thing you would ever hear.