The Disney Channel announced yesterday that it was renewing the show “Jessie” for its fourth season. The show stars 22 year-old Debby Ryan as a young Texas woman working as a nanny for a very wealthy couple in New York City with children adopted from India, Africa and America. The family is a bit of a play on the Jolie-Pitt family.
The renewal isn’t surprising. Adam Bonnett, Executive Vice President, Original Programming, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, “‘Jessie’ is a fan favorite for kids and families all around the world.”
Variety reports that “Jessie” is the top rated telecast in its time period. it’s TV’s No. 2-rated live-action series for kids ages 6-11 and the fourth most popular television series in tweens ages 9-14.
My tween is one of the millions who watches “Jessie” and if it is going to continue to grace the television screen in my home for at least another season, I’m going to offer some unsolicited suggestion for improving upon the show.
1. Quit showing it all the time.
Remember the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder? Yeah, that’s not a principle the Disney programming people apply to this show (or their other ones, really). “Jessie” is on All. The. Time. It’s like rerunapalooza. If there were some breaks between shows, parents would be happier. Not that it isn’t filling up DVR’s around the nation, but still. A break. It ubiquitous, and there’s no need for that.
2. Give parents, and just grown-ups in general, some credit, or at least a modicum of respect.
Kids are sassy enough, thanks, they don’t need a “how to guide” from the kids on “Jessie.” Kids can be funny without being rude. (Don’t believe me? See The Cosby Show.) Also, The parents are portrayed as idiots, and unnecessary at that. Parents can be funny without being really, really dumb and selfish. Again, see The Cosby Show.
3. Give kids some credit.
It feels like the writers don’t think much of kids and their intelligence levels. It feels like the show often goes for the lowest common denominator. Also, Common Sense Media notes in its review of the show that the “cast’s diversity sends questionable messages by falling victim to racial stereotyping in the case of African-American and Indian-American characters.” I know it’s tough appeal to a wide age range, but the 9-14 age group that likes this show can handle so much more. Kick it up a level. Kids watching this show look like zombies. They “watch” but what about tweaking the show to be one that really engages them?
3a). Be kind.
Making fun of people for being fat or unattractive is not cool, and even kids know that. Be kind. The meanness is uncalled for.
4. Get rid of the really big lizard.
It’s called a komodo dragon on the show but the net says it is an Asian Water Monitor lizard. Whatever it is, I don’t like it. It is 7 feet long and you can see it in the first photo above. It is not cute. It is creepy. There are so many characters that a pet is completely unnecessary. Please, send the lizard named Mrs. Kipling off screen. Permanently. Please.
5. Make better use of Bertram the butler.
Kevin Chamberlin plays the butler, Bertram. He has been nominated for both Drama Desk and Tony Awards for his work on Broadway. Clearly this man can act, and sing, and be so much more than the straight man that the show uses him as. He deserves better, and so do us parents.
Drew Magary, dad and writer, penned a hilarious review skewering “Jessie” in Deadspin here and (be aware that there is some swearing in this hilarious article. If that isn’t your thing, skip it.)
Parents who are not “Jessie” fans, take heart. The Disney Channel typically ends shows after four years, like it did with “Good Luck, Charlie.”
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Filed under: Pop Culture