Last updated on June 2, 2022
My oldest son loves the Curious George show on PBS. He laughs along with it and afterwards will tell me the intricate plot points that moved the show from point A to Z. He has his favorites and his not-so-favorites, but generally he enjoys all of them, somewhat, even if he doesn’t love all of them.
I think Noah likes the show because it reminds him of himself. George is curious, fairly bright, and always getting into situations that he’d be better off not getting into. He’s smart and funny and cute, just like George, and he probably smells better than George, even though TMWTYH bathes George regularly.
But the show does one thing that, the first time I heard it, I knew immediately what it meant when I heard it.
In between the two CG segments of the show they will cut to kids taking some lesson that George learned and put it to practical real-world use. Kids will make telescopes out of paper towel tubes or trace their shadows and watch the sun move and stuff like that, but they always say the same thing after each cartoon segment: “George is a monkey, and he can do things that you can’t do.”
Really? It’s really come to that? Telling kids that a monkey might be able to climb up telephone poles and swing from power lines without being fried to a crisp? Or that he can knock down an entire dinosaur exhibit and put it back together before some scientists return? What is the meaning of this?
If you’re like me you already know what this is – the legal disclaimer. Yes, George is a monkey, and he can do things that you can’t do, like get kidnapped from his homeland in Africa and be brought to New York City (wait – some people a long time ago did do that), or go up in a rocket and repair a satellite (that’s been done too), or go skiing and rescue a pig (I’m sure someone has done those exact same things on a ski trip before).
Get real, PBS. Kids are just as smart and brave and crafty and mischievous as Curious George, and while the disclaimer could read “George is a monkey, and he can do things that you shouldn’t do without asking your parents first,” all of the things he does are in fact doable, but some little kid might get hurt or die doing what George does on your show.
When I was a kid there was a park near my house and it had great things to play with there. My favorite thing to do there was swing as high as I could on the swings and then jump off the swing at its highest point, flying probably ten feet or so from a height of about nine to ten feet in the air. It was pretty thrilling to do, and I never broke my arm or ankle, and I could have, but it was fun. And Curious George has fun too, but PBS, don’t tell kids they shouldn’t be adventurous. That sometimes takes all the fun out of being a kid, and if that’s the case you might as well just call him Dullard George.
I watch this cartoon every morning with my 5 year old daughter and always find myself thinking… things we CAN’T do! We are perfectly capable of planting canned vegetables or dividing fish crackers among 5 people! WTH! Thank you for writing and letting me know I am not the only one that thinks of this and the correct way it SHOULD be relayed to our kids. Great article!
I really don’t understand the need for that line >.< I can't think of much that a monkey can do that a human can't. Maybe throw some poo and not be called a psycho?
That line has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time! I’m glad I’m not the only one.
I’m watchijg the show as I type this, with my two girls, ages 2 and 4.
I get that the statement is a ham-fisted attempt at a disclaimer, but I think that it sends the wrong message – in more ways than one.
The line makes it seem as if a real monkey is capable of doing the things that George can do – like counting, math, communicating with humans, and yes, rebuilding dinosaur skeletons. The line is always followed by examples of things that monkeys actually can NOT do. The message ends up being “You’re not as smart as a monkey.”
I would like to say that I am deeply offended by this article as I consider myself a monkey and I firmly believe that I am capable of many, many things that you could never dream of doing. I watch this show with my 5 and 6 year old monkey kids, and I see them at the playground everyday trying to do what George does and they never succeed.
I will be writing to the board of my local monkey community to inform them of the egregious offenses in this article.
I completely agree with you there, as a member of the international monkey board, this whole article is a disgrace. I pride myself on being able to climb things no other human could possibly climb. Personally I have climbed many buildings that I am certain that a mere human child wouldn’t be able to conquer. Have a great day and enjoy yourself some bananas OOH OOH AHHH OOOHHH.
Shut up and go back to eating some watermelon and fried chicken kala