Why your family should watch Pee-wee's Playhouse
There is a lot of artistic content in the world to consume, and we simply don't have enough time to consume it all. There is literally not enough time to do it. Even if you threw out all the lame books and movies and music and games, you still wouldn't have anywhere near enough time in your life to experience all of the great art in the world, not to mention all of the new art being made every day. We're simply fighting an uphill battle.
You might wonder if services like Netflix are helping us with that issue by making content easier to access and consume, or making it worse by overwhelming us with random content and increasing the likelihood we'll just watch some junk we've never heard of. I tend to think it's the latter.
Unfortunately, this is amplified like a million percent with kids. If an adult impulsively watches some junk on Netflix, they will most likely be disappointed, and perhaps even feel like they wasted their time. But kids don't know any better. Not only will they not feel disappointment, they'll probably watch it again 20 times. If it's inside the TV box it must be good.
As a fan of good stuff, this can cause me physical pain. I feel like it's my sacred duty to prevent such a waste of precious childhood time. We don't have enough time to consume all of the great art in our lifetime, and likewise children don't have enough time to consume all of the great childhood art before they grow up. Not only is there a giant mountain of great stuff from my childhood that I want to share with my kids, but, believe it or not, there are also several good shows being made today that weren't designed in a science lab to sell the highest possible number of licensed toys.
"Like Mister Rogers, Pee-wee talks to the kids, but he doesn't talk down to them."
One prime example of an older show your family should absolutely watch together is Pee-wee's Playhouse. That's right, I said it: Pee-wee's Playhouse is art you can't afford to let your children miss during their childhood. This was a sleeper hit in my family. Very, very popular with my son. Pee-wee is also legitimately funny. You know what I mean. You know how sometimes you're watching kids shows and it's not even the slightest bit funny, but the kids are laughing for some reason, and you're worried whether or not they're going to grow up knowing what humor is? Well, rest assured, because Pee-wee is actually real, honest-to-goodness, subtle, smart, clever funny that will help calibrate your kid's funnymeter.
I definitely watched Pee-wee when I was little, but for some reason I actually remember the movies, like Pee-wee's Big Adventure, even better. And if you remember the movies better too, or perhaps even his stage show, somewhere in the back of your head you might be thinking "isn't Pee-wee's humor just a little too adult for kids?" But I am here to tell you, Pee-wee's Playhouse is 100% a kids show, and one of the best ever made. It's goofy, it's creative, and it's 100% sincere.
"This show is his baby. He created this character that simply exudes childhood innocence in his attitude and demeanor, and he surrounded him with an incredibly imaginative cast of characters"
Pee-wee's Playhouse reminds me a lot of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, with his honorable goal of making the world a better and happier place. Like Mister Rogers, Pee-wee talks to the kids, but he doesn't talk down to them. Paul Reubens absolutely deserves that comparison. He wants to teach kids everything from empathy to how to make a sandwich. This show is his baby. He created this character that simply exudes childhood innocence in his attitude and demeanor, and then he surrounded him with an incredibly imaginative cast of characters, and he delivers the whole thing with a lot of heart. And, bonus, there are some seriously awesome puppets. And claymation. And Phil Hartman! And Laurence Fishburne!
One thing about Pee-wee's Playhouse that works very well is the way certain elements of the variety act are repeated each episode. We know we'll probably check in on the dinosaur family, we'll get a visit from the King of Cartoons, we'll definitely get a wish granted from Jambi the genie, and, of course, Conky the robot will give us a secret word where we get to scream real loud every time we hear someone say it. There is nothing better than screaming real loud at the secret word. The list goes on and on. It makes the whole playhouse very familiar for the kids, and it's endearing to revisit this long list of characters every week (or every thirty minutes these days). Kids like checking in on their favorite characters in this way, because it makes it feel like one big happy family that they're a part of.
Pee-wee's Playhouse is highly recommended for you and your kids if you fall into one of these two categories: 1) "I totally forgot about Pee-wee! I love remembering things I love!" or 2) I've never heard about this show, but I do like happiness." At the time of writing, you can watch every episode on Netflix. Now, quick! Go watch Pee-wee's Playhouse with your kids before they grow up!
Do you fall into category 1 or 2 or none of the above? Do you have fond memories of Pee-wee? What do your kids think? Let us know in the comments section.