Illustration by Jim Cooke

A look at the awful children’s programming you’re forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours.

The Show

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

The Theme Song

Just off the shores of Neverland
A hideaway at sea
YO HO! YO HO!
Let’s go! Let’s go!

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A pirate band outwits the plans
Of Captain Hook and Smee
YO HO! YO HO!
Let’s go! Let’s go!

The Mythology

Continuing in children television’s grand history of taking classic children’s stories and rendering them utterly ordinary, Jake and the Neverland Pirates is about a bunch of kiddie pirates who spend all day in Neverland pulling pranks on Captain Hook and his idiot henchmen. And why does Peter Pan only make the occasional cameo in this show when it’s based off of his story, a story that is cozily within public domain rights? I’ll tell you why: because he’s not XTREEEEM enough. No modern, Dew-swilling toddler thinks a freckled dipshit kid flying around in a discount Robin Hood outfit is cool. We gotta reboot the saga and make the main character a kid with high bangs and a tasteful pirate vest. Now there’s a pirate who looks at home in a Restoration Hardware Teen catalog!

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By the way, I’ve seen a lot of different iterations of Peter Pan (except the gritty Hugh Jackman reboot), and Neverland is always awful. It’s a tiny island populated with man-eating crocs and homicidal pirates and problematic Indian stereotypes. Captain Hook even calls them redskins in the original film. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY, DAN SNYDER. Anyway, flight aside, no sane kid wants to go here. In real life, you’d flag a ship down to take you away from this godforsaken shithole. There’s even a section of it called Cannibal Cove here! What the fuck? How about you fly my ass to Six Flags next time, Pete?

Episode Format

Every episode starts off with Jake and his crew stumbling onto some treasure, or rare animal, or box of cookies that Captain Hook desperately wants. And so he sends Smee off to snatch the treasure, and then Smee fucks it up, and then Hook decides to get the treasure himself, and then he GETS the treasure, but then a crocodile bites his butt and he lets go of it by accident and Jake gets the treasure back. Fin.

You, the viewer a home, are expected to help participate in all this mischief. Yes, Jake and the Neverland Pirates is one of those kiddie shows that breaks the fourth wall and has the characters speak directly to the camera. This has been a big thing ever since Malcolm Gladwell wrote that book with the Blue’s Clues chapter. Kiddie show characters have to be mavens now who disrupt the tipping point by thin-slicing your children directly. That was my takeaway. That guy has weird hair.

At the end of every show, Jake asks you to count up all the gold dubloons (ARRRGHHH!) they got on their adventure. Anecdotally speaking, I can tell you that my kid has NEVER once counted the dubloons, or responded to anything Jake has to say. He doesn’t give a shit. My working theory is that they have the characters talk to the camera and then leave seconds of dead air so that the scripts don’t have to be as long.

Characters

Jake: Leader of the pirate crew. Has boots emblazoned with the letter J, which would make JJ Watt’s logo design firm happy. Jake has been voiced by four different actors, including Cameron Boyce. Say, where do I know that name? OH RIGHT! He’s one of the stars of Jessie, which is also on Disney Junior. That’s how the Disney child sweatshop works, people. If you’re on one show, you’re on ALL of them. They aren’t letting any scale wage hours go to waste. They get all the meat off the child actor’s bones.

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Izzy: The girl pirate. Sass level: 78%. Please note that this show has two catchphrases, the first of which is the affirmative YO HO, LET’S GO! But the counter-catchphrase to that is YAY HEY, NO WAY!, often voiced by Izzy. Allow me to demonstrate its usage: “YAY HEY, NO WAY! We can’t let Captain Hook bulldoze that oyster farm!”

Cubby: The fat kid.

Captain Hook: Captain of the Jolly Roger. Amputee. In the original Peter Pan, Hook is the (racist) evil dreamworld version of Wendy’s gruff father. In this show, he’s basically a defanged comic sidekick… a man hellbent on making life miserable for Jake and his friends because... well because there’s nothing better to do in the East Bumblefuck that is Neverland, and probably because he’s a diddler. I don’t wanna know where that hook has been.

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By the way, in the original story, Hook hates Peter Pan because Peter cut his hand off and a crocodile ate it. And you know what? I think I’d want him dead, too. Peter Pan is kind of a dipshit in that movie. Tell me this isn’t a punchable face. He’s the fairytale Jimmy Clausen.

Smee: Hook’s first mate. Alternates between fucking up and then timidly attempting to point out to Captain Hook that Jake has gotten away AGAIN. Please note that Smee is a fat old guy with a bare midriff and bad sandals. He’s basically every Tampa resident.

Skully: The parrot. According to Wikipedia, Skully is “voiced by: David Arquette (speaking) and Loren Hoskins (singing).” Good to see that David Arquette is alive and thriving.

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Sharky and Bones: The show troubadours. Every episode ends with these two singing a live-action pirate rock song, in a pirate voice. Remember when Talk Like A Pirate Day was a thing for roughly seven seconds? This show never let go.

Best Episode

None.

Worst Episode

The one with Peter Pan in it. Again, why not just make HIM the star of the show? I can picture Disney execs holding a focus group with a bunch of three-years-olds in soiled diapers and coming away with a formal briefing that recommends a Peter Pan show without the Peter Pan in it. “(peers at report) The test subjects also recommended ‘candy’ be a vital plot point.”

Pros

It’s fine. At least there’s counting.

Cons

It’s on Netflix. That means continuous viewing. You can set up a whole season of Jake, put your kid on the couch, go take a trip to Indonesia, and return home with your child in the exact same spot. It’s pretty cool. Only time it fucks up is when Netflix pauses the show because you haven’t touched the remote in a while. That’s when it asks you if you want to continue watching. STUPID NETFLIX. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to? I’ll tell you when my child has had enough goddamn TV, thank you very much.

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