TV Needs More Shows Like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood... The Seinfeld of Children's TV
Today I was thinking about Fred Rogers, and how special Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was.
More than anything, I was thinking about how so many of today's children will never know who he was. That's sad.
There are countless shows geared at children today, including some very high quality shows, but there's a big hole in children's television where Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood once stood.
So many of today's children's shows are the product of two distinct factories of thought... entertainment or purely academic education. These shows are formulated and tested by focus groups that end up producing a highly polished, but watered down message. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that children have a lot more diversity of characters, and they gain as much watching TV as they would in many pre-schools, but they lack the kind of heart Fred Rogers brought to children through his show.
Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was a bit like Seinfeld... for children. It was a show about nothing.
The show itself didn't have a plot, or an agenda. Each show began the same way; Fred Rogers took off his shoes, put on sneakers and a sweater and then he said "Hi Neighbor". Everything that followed was just a flow of everyday things that everybody takes for granted. Actually, I should say everyday things that everybody except kids... and Fred Rogers took for granted.
Do you see how different that is? He knew that kids were fascinated by all the simple things like the mailman, the fireman, and well... everyone in the neighborhood. The show wasn't about learning the alphabet, spelling, science, math or the things they test you on. It was about people... who they are, what they do, where they go and most importantly, it was a show about being friendly, kind and polite to your neighbors.
Young children are curious, and sometimes their curiosity can make them shy or afraid of things they don't understand. Fred Rogers knew this, and he often would satisfy their curiosity and allay their fears by talking about things that children may not have understood, like bad dreams, TV monsters and ghosts, going to the Doctor or a barking dog. These may sound simple, but to a child it had a big impact.
In the photo above, Mr. Rogers goes to the Doctor, and even gets a needle.
Here's some of Fred Rogers's thoughts on fears from his official website
Although he's been parodied many times, he was clearly loved and respected because more than anything else, Fred Rogers wasn't just an actor playing a nice guy. Fred Rogers WAS a nice guy.
Clearly we need another show like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, the trouble is, can we find somebody like Fred Rogers?
Joe Crescenzi, Founder
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