Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Don’t we deserve better?

You’d think with all the new ways we have to view content that content would be getting better. And overall, it is. Netflix and Amazon now regularly come up with Emmy-winning original programming to compete with previous standard-bearers HBO and Showtime.

But our plethora of platforms and the pressure to stand out this fall season seems to mean that envelope-pushing and shocking shows are what are rising to the top.

Scream-queens_teaserTake Scream Queens, for example. There has been a lot of buzz about the Fox series, starring Emma Roberts as a sorority girl on a campus where sorority girls are getting murdered.

Yes, it’s a spoof, a satire, a send-up of slasher movies, but I didn’t think it was funny. Calling girls “sluts” and “bitches” and making vulgar sex talk set to a backdrop of bloody killing just doesn’t make for healthy viewing for our teens – or for anyone.

The series is rated TV-14, and it’s from edgy Ryan Murphy – who gave us Glee, but if teens in your house are watching this, you need to watch it too. There’s nothing gleeful about it.

oscar_s-hotel-for-fantastical-creatures2Oscar’s Hotel for Fantastical Creatures is another example. This new Vimeo series came highly touted. Lots of anticipation on the web.

It stars Chris Kendall, a U.K.-based YouTube comedian with a big following. YouTube star Grace Helbig is also part of the cast. Patrick Stewart and Alfred Molina voice two of the characters. But getting the most buzz were the “fantastical creatures” made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

I invite you to watch the first episode. It’s just plain weird. Titled “The Party Nightmare,” it’s all about Oliver trying to get more business into his uncle’s hotel. He hires a “demon horse clown” to get a party started. The horse clown starts shooting people with a gun that explodes with glitter, until – spoiler alert! – he reveals himself to be an alien. Oliver grabs the gun and shoots the horse clown, reducing him to a sugar cube. A write-up of the party in a local magazine the new morning deems the hotel “cool” and Oscar’s uncle is pleased. He hands Oscar a name badge that says “Oscar’s Ass” – which he says is short for “assistant.”

It all had the vibe of some kind of strange, psychedelic drug trip. Worth your tween’s time? Nope.

Is it too much to ask that no matter what the platform, the programming should enlighten, entertain and engage with underlying positive messages for everyone in your family?

We don’t think so.