Monday, January 21, 2013

Disney Discontinued

After much gnashing of teeth and rolling of eyes, my husband and I have decided that there is no place in our family for the Disney Channel.

Let me back up.

A little over a year ago, I began thinking to myself, "Geez, Lindsey is growing up awfully fast." She was becoming rather sassy, quick to make snappy comebacks or snide remarks. "She's 9 going on 19," I thought to myself.

We've always monitored what they've watched, but hadn't really realized the impact of it. Then I sat down with her and watched an episode of "Good Luck Charlie."

Now, as far as Disney shows go, in my opinion "Good Luck Charlie" isn't even the worst of them. At least in this sitcom the parents are present. In most Disney channels, there are no parents present; kids are at boarding school, parents are continually away on business trips, or guardianship has been turned over to an older brother or nanny barely older than the kids on the show. If there are adults present, they are usually dumb, easily fooled and frequently mocked. 

At least in "Good Luck Charlie" there are parents present, and the teenagers even turn to their parents for advice and guidance. Except that apparently the parents like to respond in kind with snappy comebacks and clever one-liners. The other characters respond in kind.

I wasn't very happy with the viewing of these Disney sitcoms but had a hard time finding alternatives, even with over 1,000 channels on the TV. The cartoon channels on Disney and Nickelodeon weren't any better; the cartoon's responses to the disrespectful behavior was just more exaggerated. Both girls were beyond watching channels that they considered "kiddie" channels. No more Dora the Explorer in this home.

Then my sister came to visit in October, and mentioned that she didn't like how disrespectful the kids were to us. I talked over the source of this with Wayne, but once again, we were challenged to find other viewing options. We had already restricted TV watching to weekends only so they were only exposed to television 4 to 5 hours per week, total. (I say "only" knowing that the average American child spends 28 hours per week watching television. That's more than 1 full day per week.) 

And then in November Lindsey had a flurry of disrespectful behavior that made the characters on the Disney show look like angels.

That was it. 

I immediately blocked the Disney channel, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon and other "kids" networks. I put a plea out on Facebook asking other parents for non-Disney alternatives, and set the DVR to record "Little House on the Prairie," "Family Ties" and "I Love Lucy" whenever they played.

At first, I was met with resistance. There was much gnashing of teeth and rolling of eyes. 

And then there was some tittering. And giggling, followed by outright laughter. 

"I Love Lucy" struck a particular chord with both girls, but especially with Lindsey. Lucy's antics kept them both in stitches. They marveled at the rotary telephone, the "modern" conveniences of her 1950's kitchen, and oooh'd and aaah'd at the dresses worn by Lucy and Ethel. Having Rock Hudson or Harpo Marx guest star on the show meant nothing to them, and required explanation.

Lindsey asked for "I Love Lucy" DVDs for Christmas, and they've been played every weekend ever since Santa brought them. 

Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems that we are getting less backtalk, fewer snappy remarks and more actual conversation and fewer obnoxious reactions.

And now, if you say something to Lindsey like "You need to practice your viola, Lindsey," instead of being met with stomping of feet and histrionics, you may hear "Eeeooooo...." with a little lip curl the way Lucy Ricardo does it and some slightly crossed eyes.

And that's okay with me.


  1. Funny how I just posted a good thing about Disney Channel on my blog :) But the kiddo shows are much different then the tween ones.
    Have you tried Patty Duke or Mr. Ed? I loved watching those at my Grandma's.
    My parents got rid of all TV channels when I was 5. We didn't get them again until I was 16. We watched a movie a week. I know nothing of 80's and 90's pop culture. I let Penny watch too much TV, and I'm about ready to be just like my mom and get rid of all of it before she is too old for Dora and Caillou.

  2. Good recommendations, Laura!

    The younger Disney cartoons are just fine. I've been a fan of Disney for a long time, and like the movies as well, for as much flak as they've gotten over the years for the portrayal of the princesses. But the sitcoms are just not appropriate, and I'm glad we turned them off.

    The other thing happening in our house is that television viewing preferences skewed to the older one. Marissa just watched along with her, and was being exposed to stuff that we would have NEVER let Lindsey watch at her age. Done and done.

  3. Yup, the tweenage shows on Disney are freakin horrible. Only time I let Chase watch any Disney is when decent movies are on, and sometimes in the morning when actual kids shows are on.
    Otherwise we record 4-5 show we like on PBS (ie, the ones I can stand to watch), and catch those when we're in the mood to chill.
    We do record some Saturday morning Cartoon Network shows (Clone Wars, superhero stuff) because he likes them, and I'm mentally about 12.

    Of course this mostly just applies to Winter months. Otherwise we're outside all the time.

  4. I am amazed at how fast kids alter their behavior. We have a young man, 18 in our A&P (Airframe * Powerplant) class who got into some trouble with another student last summer. When I went over to the program I took and interest in him. Started telling him he was smart, he was, that he'd be OK. Pack up the anger and sit on it, I have always found a direct approach the best. I teased him that I wanted one of his big diamond type earings one day. I encouraged him in school. He has done a 180. He passed his certificate tests for General Aviation and Airframe, those require two hours of written exams and one full day, one on one with an FAA inspector doing oral and practical demonstrations of his knowledge and skills. Quite daunting for an 18 year old. He passed, he is so proud. I got him a part time job with the school and now he calls me "Big Homie." I'm proud of that moniker.