It’s time to crash Deadspin’s ongoing series surveying the awful shows you’re forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours to watch reruns of The Americans.

The Show

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

The Theme Song

It’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
A land of make-believe
Won’t you ride along with me (ride along)
It’s Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
So much to do, so much to see
Won’t you ride along with me (ride along)

Advertisement

I’ve got lots of friends for you to meet
In this land of make-believe
A friendly face on every street
Just waiting to greet you!

The Mythology

Remember those hand puppets on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the ones that lived in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe? Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood animated them, turned them into grown-ups, where, in a land of make-believe, they helicopter parent some of the most irritating children known to man or animal kind.

Episode Format

Every morning Daniel Tiger gets up, sings a song, puts on his red sweater and then has an emotional breakdown. More so than most children, Daniel Tiger is singularly unequipped to do the things that children do every day, like going to school, going to the doctor, and brushing his teeth. These simple things are all emotional journeys for the young tiger; fraught and meaningful experiences that require the strong, guiding hand of adults who are all an endless well of patience and support. Mom and Dad Tiger are eager to equip their beloved son with the emotional armor, usually in the form of a song, that he needs when his wrist watch breaks or artisanal birthday cake is accidentally smashed. His friends are all there to help Daniel in his journey, eagerly ready to supply a witty catchphrase whenever the occasion arises.

Advertisement

If all of the stereotypes found in a New York Times style section piece on wealthy, overprotective Brooklyn parents became an animated television show, it would be Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Characters

Daniel Tiger: The toddler son of the original Daniel the Striped Tiger from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Young Daniel wears a red sweater, sneakers, and no pants. He likes trolleys (which he pronounces like a native Philadelphian even though the land of make-believe clearly isn’t Philadelphia because it isn’t filled with belligerent fans) and whining over minor inconveniences. Daniel lives in a nice, waterfront house with his own bathroom and never has to wear pants. But does Daniel appreciate his freedom? No. Instead, he whines about things like having to share with his friends.

Dad Tiger: Also never wears pants. He loves jazz, clock making, and vegetable spaghetti. Why a tiger loves vegetables is anyone’s guess.

Mom Tiger: Wears pants and Hawaiian-inspired floral shirts. Mom Tiger has the patience of a saint. She never loses her shit while Daniel is crying about nap time and never gives her husband side eye while he talks about making clocks and jazz. I feel sorry for Mom Tiger, she’s going to have an epic breakdown worthy of The Hours around the time Daniel turns ten.

Grandpere Tiger: Like all of the men on this show, he doesn’t wear pants. He does, however, wear a beret. He’s inexplicably French and loves sailing. He is likely a pedophile.

Margaret Tiger: Daniel’s baby sister. Does baby stuff.

Katerina Kittycat: One of Daniel’s friends. Katerina loves singing and dancing. Says “meow meow” before or after every sentence. She is equally as annoying as her friend Daniel.

Advertisement

Henrietta Pussycat: Katerina’s mom. She’s ostensibly a single mom, but one time she said was married to an actor named “Javier.” Javier has never appeared on screen (?), so the other moms probably gossip about her. She also says “meow meow” after every sentence. The constant meowing is pretty grating. Here’s a typical conversation between Katerina and Henrietta:

Katerina: Meow meow, we’ll be upstairs Mommy.

Henrietta: Okay, meow meow.

There’s a kid in my son’s class who has taken to punctuating her sentences with “meow meow.” I feel for her parents.

Advertisement

O the Owl: The smart kid who doesn’t seem to have parents. He likes books and, for some reason, doesn’t wear any clothes. Catchphrase: “Hoo-hoo.” O the Owl is the most likable of all of Daniel’s friends, likely because he isn’t constantly having emotional breakdowns.

X the Owl: O the Owl’s uncle who works at the library. Has an unfortunate habit of saying, “Nifty Galifty!”

Prince Wednesday: The one percent of the land of make-believe. Prince Wednesday wears his golden crown to pre-school and pretends to be good at sports.

Advertisement

King Friday: Prince Wednesday’s dad. Lives in a damn castle. It’s not clear if he’s actually the king of the land of make-believe or if it operates under a democratic government.

Prince Tuesday: Prince Wednesday’s older brother. Even though he’s going to inherit a castle, he makes a couple of bucks babysitting Daniel Tiger.

Miss Elaina: A sassy child who undoubtedly has the worst catchphrase on the show. “Hiya, toots!” she says to everyone she greets on the show. Miss Elaina is the counterpoint to Katerina Kittycat’s princess-loving femininity (That same dynamic that’s familiar to anyone who watches Sesame Street). Her catchphrase is ostensibly supposed to signify that she’s the cool kid and since her dad owns the music shop, other toddlers probably think she’s very edgy.

Music Man Stan: Miss Elaina’s dad, he encourages Dad Tiger’s love of jazz.

Lady Elaine: Miss Elaina’s mom. She’s very bland and very patient.

Miss Henrietta: The pre-school teacher who is so chill she’s probably addicted to Xanax or some other downer.

Advertisement

Real People at the end of the show: Short segments at the end of the cartoon show where real parents and kids doing things inspired by Daniel Tiger. Who volunteers for this?

Best Episode

None.

Worst Episode

Snowflake Day. This is an hour-long special where the kids get dressed up and literally sing a song about what special snowflakes they are. Seriously. It’s supposed to be a holiday episode but it’s really just an after school special on the dangers of PBS.

Pros

I don’t have to watch Elmo anymore. One more round of that high-pitched puppet singing “the letter of the day....is...” and I might have pulled my television off the wall and broken it into many average-sized pieces. Plus the song, “take a deep breath, and let it go” has proven useful when my three-year-old is having a tantrum because THE SUPERMAN SHIRT ISN’T CLEAN.

Cons

A generation of children who will, no doubt think “Hiya, toots!” is endearing.

Thanks for reading Momspin. Ugga mugga.

Videos via YouTube.