My wife, who I used to love very much, spent about six months buying up all kinds of Peppa Pig merchandise in an attempt to get Izzie into Peppa Pig. Over the past couple of months it has paid dividends, because the little one is now obsessed with it. And my feelings towards my wife have become rather complicated since she’s the one who inflicted the Pink Horror upon this household.
Every day I have to help Izzie colour in pictures of Peppa Pig, load the massive Peppa Pig teddy into the Peppa Pig pushchair, resist her demands to wear her Peppa Pig tights (and only her Peppa Pig tights), put Plastic Peppa on the rides in her Plastic Play Park, read her Peppa books, push the Peppa car and the Peppa train, and make lunch on the Peppa plate with Peppa bowl and serve her Peppa yoghurt with a Peppa spoon. That’s before I mention the Peppa sticker book, Peppa pyjamas, Peppa Mega Bloks, Peppa Weebles, Peppa backpack, Peppa Wellington boots and Peppa toothbrush.
Now, in all honesty, I don’t have that much of a problem with this – if it wasn’t Peppa Pig, it’d be something equally as crass and commercialised. And the show itself, which I’m forced to watch at least four times a day as Izzie jumps up and down singing ‘Bear-per Big, Bear-per Big,’ isn’t completely horrible – although I’d rather the little one would still be happy watching the family-friendly crap we used to enjoy together, like Hunting Hitler and Curse of Oak Island and sometimes Ghost Adventures (don’t judge me). But as a grown man, and particularly a grown man with autism, there are some things about Peppa Pig that drive me freaking insane.
Like the stories. Ever since I was a kid, watching things like The Littlest Hobo, Airwolf and The A-Team (I said don’t judge me!), stories had a start, middle and end. Start: when property-developing hicks arrive to bully some downtrodden woman with a perm off her dirt farm, they are soundly routed by the A-Team. Middle: the baddies respond to this with escalating TV-friendly violence, culminating in the capture of the A-Team. End: having been locked in a machine shop with all the tools necessary to make a flamethrower tank out of a washing machine, the A-Team bust out and save the day. Yay!
Peppa Pig doesn’t work like this. I’m not asking for narrative complexity in a five-minute children’s show, but the programme starts, and just when it’s building up to something, everyone falls down laughing and it ends, leaving you staring at the screen going, ‘What? Where’s the resolution? Where’s the climax? You said you were going to Pirate Island, you’ve only just got there and it’s the end credits? Where the hell is the third act? What was the point in all this? We haven’t been on a journey! We haven’t learnt anything! We haven’t followed a character arc! All we’ve done is kill five minutes!’
Okay. Maybe I am asking for narrative complexity from a five-minute children’s show.
But then there is the Pig family, who are equally as annoying. They are Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Peppa Pig and George. Why is he not George Pig? Why is he never referred to as George Pig? Why set up a pattern of ‘syllable-syllable surname’ and then abandon it? Or is George not really one of them? Is he actually a boar that they’ve kidnapped and are raising as their own? Whatever the case, I don’t anticipate an answer any time soon.
Another unexplained betrayal of internal logic is the animal hierarchy. I’m right behind the whole talking animals thing, and barnyard beasts adopting anthropomorphic characteristics, but how come Dr Hamster has a pet tortoise? What on earth in the Peppa Pig universe makes a hamster good enough to go to veterinary school, but a tortoise into nothing more than a pet? How come a rabbit is now a person but a budgie is still an animal? It makes no sense.
Just as the animal groupings make no sense. You have rabbits in a class with a fox. The neighbours to the Pig family is the Wolf family, and I’m no expert on wildlife but my knowledge of nursery rhymes implies that wolves and pigs don’t really mix. And if the prey animals like rabbits, deer, antelope, cattle, pigs, etc., are now people, does that mean the carnivores are now vegans? Or are there an awful lot of murders in town where the victims appear to have been devoured?
But the most annoying part of the whole programme is Miss Rabbit, and it’s not just because she has a voice that could strip wallpaper. She is the local bus driver. And she works in the local shop. And she’s the librarian. And runs the ice cream stall. She’s also a firefighter, and operates a rescue helicopter, and flies a hot air balloon. And she’s a nurse, and a dental nurse, and a train driver, and probably a rocket-ship pilot, deep sea diver and forensic pathologist too.
Look, I know it’s for kids, but is a little logic and consistency too much to ask?