PAW Patrol has taken over my life. Its songs have infected my brain and I have learned the unique features of each character, including but certainly not limited to: their vehicles, colors, catchphrases, and individual backstory. I couldn't even escape its clutches on holiday in Portugal recently; every gift shop had a knock-off version of the cuddly pack of rescue dogs and their caretaker. In other words, the moments PAW Patrol made me question my life choices are seemingly endless.
If you haven't yet been tortured with this particular cartoon, let me break it down for you while simultaneously feeling ridiculously jealous of you. I mean, how did you escape the clutches of this television show while parenting? (Don't answer that. I do not want to know.)
PAW Patrol is a Canadian show enjoying international popularity since its conception in 2013. It's about a little boy, Ryder, who lives alone (let that sink in) with a bunch of dogs who, together, perform rescue services for the town of Adventure Bay. Each dog has their own cool rescue vehicle, except for poor Rocky, who drives a garbage truck. (Tough break, kid). The town has a mayor (refreshingly, a woman of color) but rather than run the town herself, she gets on her smartphone (heavy reliance on technology in this show) and calls for Ryder and "his team of pups" to help with every problem imaginable.
There are more than a few times I have been left scratching my head while watching an episode, wondering if the life choices I've made that have lead me to this point in my life are the "right" ones. I guess, as with everything in life, you just have to take the good and the bad together when it comes to parenting. Ugh.
When Ryder Was Better At Delegation
Ryder could rival any corporate team leader in his ability to look at a problem and effortlessly decide who needs to handle each individual task. Honestly, I am quite impressed (and a little jealous).
When Gender Stereotypes Went Off The Charts
Sadly, life isn't all good in Adventure Bay. Although they have a female mayor, as far as the dogs are concerned the patriarchy is alive and well. Of the team of six dogs, only one is female and she is depicted as much smaller than the male dogs, has less cool gadgets, and is dressed completely in pink. Due to audience pressure, the second series saw the introduction of a second female pup, Everest, but she doesn't doesn't appear in many episodes and is dressed all in purple, which is almost pink. Ugh.
When Mayor Goodway Was So Trusting
The Mayor has absolutely no hesitations about trusting her town's infrastructure problems, rescue operations, and tourism and recreation events to a small child and a band of dogs. This woman doesn't have a cynical bone in her body.
When Children And Pets Live Like Millionaires
It is never explained just where Ryder gets the funds to run the rescue operation or how he pays for the assortment of vehicles, gadgets, and vast array of technology that underpin every episode. Where did I go wrong in my life that a child and some stray dogs live like kings, while I still don't have an ATV that converts into a jet ski?
When Everyone Had A Special Talent
Even Marshall, who is a walking slapstick joke, has special talents and gifts. Each pup has a purpose, a specialty, and is valued for what they bring to the team. Now that's a world I wouldn't mind living in.
When Ryder Had More Technology Than Any One Human Needs
Ryder has a very cool "pup pad" tablet, that can also be used as a smartphone and allows him to video call anyone needing his assistance. It also connects directly to each pup's collar. IN addition, he has a large projector in the lookout and another in the "PAW Patroller," which is like a huge RV that allows rescue missions to go off road.
I had a flip phone until two years ago. A flip phone, you guys.
When Adults Were Not In Charge
If children, and animals for that matter, can solve all of a town's problems, what's the use in being an adult at all? All the grown-ups — including Mayor Goodway, Capt'n Turbot, Francois, and Mr. Porter — seem to have all the usual responsibilities of being an adult, but still have to turn to underage rescuers whenever anything goes wrong. It sure makes this adult feel a little redundant.
When Everything Changed
We traveled to the United Kingdom to visit my family and were surprised to see PAW Patrol on the screen, only with dubbed accents. There is something really unnerving about seeing a familiar character, only to hear a totally unexpected voice come out of their mouth. It's like the whole world doesn't make sense anymore.
When Ryder Is More Mature Than Me
Ryder is always calm and collected in emergency situations. Faced with the same scenarios, I am quite confident my response would be to panic and run around in circles for a few minutes, achieving nothing. Then, if I'm being honest, I'd probably sit in the corner and have a cry.
When 'PAW Patrol' Wasn't Just A TV Show
My son had a PAW Patrol themed birthday party. He has PAW Patrol toys, clothes, computer games, bedding; I mean, you name it. The merchandising for this show is really expansive. All the kids at my sons party knew all the pups names, their catchphrases, and their story lines.
When Mayor Goodway Had A Weird Pet
The Mayor has a purse chicken. Yes, that's a chicken that lives in her purse. This is never really explained, but has me wondering why I can't have a weird pet. My cat is so, well, ordinary.
When The Rules Didn't Make Sense
The show consists of a pack of highly intelligent, trained, talking dogs. However, there are many more animals that live in Adventure Bay, including cats, chickens, cows, bunny rabbits, a walrus, and monkeys. Yeah, none of them can talk.
The dogs can talk, but that's it? Bummer.
When Equality Was Just A Myth
All the pups are supposed to be equal, yet Marshall and Chase seem to be selected for more rescues (probably because their vehicles, a firetruck and a police car, are more useful for emergency situations). I am not sure why there would be much call for a recycling truck in any perilous situation at all. Poor Rocky really gets screwed here, although Zuma (with his hovercraft) isn't much more useful.
Sky, the only permanent female member of the group, offers air support with her custom wings, but isn't called on for much else. The added character Everest only appears in a handful of episodes.
Much like in the real world, equality is still a work in progress in Adventure Bay.
When Education Was Unnecessary
Ryder operates completely like an independent adult, without guardians, and so does another child in the show, Katie. She works as a pet groomer and, like Ryder, doesn't seem to go to school at all. Suddenly my decade (and then some) career in education seems like a huge waste of time.
PAW Patrol is loved by children across the globe, including my own son, yet it still has a few plot holes and incredulous story lines that leave me confused. Maybe you have to be a kid to get it. Maybe I have allowed this show to totally consume my life. Maybe this is part of parenthood; being so invested in a television show your kid enjoys, that you dissect it endlessly. Someone send me some wine, STAT.