In defense of Caillou
He’s just a kid who’s four. So why does everyone hate Caillou? Rather, why does every parent I know hate Caillou? And don’t even read the comments on Caillou videos on YouTube. They’re vicious! I won’t even link to them.
What are the complaints? He’s annoying. He’s whiny. He’s a goody-goody. He’s bald – why’s he bald? Click here to find out! Nothing interesting happens. Well, here’s a reality check! Except for the baldness, that pretty much sums up fourness (with an apology to my own little C)!
But though it can be a bit cloying, Caillou is a sweet, simple, day-in-the-life of a preschooler done in primary colors. And it’s hard, I think, for children’s TV to hold a mirror up to the daily life of little kids without resorting to too many bells and whistles (like giving them fins, say, or a talking backpack). It’s a good thing that children see children on television as they really are: they get excited about little things, and angry about little things. They go to school, they get along or they don’t, their little siblings get in their way. They’re not mini rock stars or astronauts or explorers, they just dress up like them.
My own four-year-old loves Caillou, unless it’s one of those episodes where the teddy bear, the dino, and the cat come to life as live-action puppets. Then he checks out, and I think it’s because that fantasy element takes away from what is good about the show: it’s created a little world for Caillou in which little kids recognize their own experiences.
So, parents, leave Caillou alone! Actually except on two points. One: I’ll grant you the voice is not great. It is a little too obvious that it’s an adult, or much older child, doing a kid’s voice, in an overly cutesy, sing-songy way. I never forget that it’s not a little kid talking.
And two: Caillou taught my son the phrase “Are we there yet?” which is nearly unforgivable. Once he saw that episode where Caillou had to drive like twenty minutes into the big city to visit some friend of his mom’s, I started hearing that on every trip to the grocery store. I don’t need that. I already know it’s Caillou’s world, and I’m just living in it.