Ever since Pinky Malinky premiered on Netflix earlier this year, it has been heavy in my son’s TV rotation. The cartoon is geared toward older kids and it’s about a talking hotdog, so it’s harmless enough, but some parents may be wondering if Pinky Malinky is appropriate for toddlers. The Netflix original might have all of the colors and music to entice younger viewers, but the impression I get is that if you're unsure, it's probably better saved for kids who are a little bit older.
On Netflix, the official rating for Pinky Malinky is TV-Y7, which means that it is technically appropriate for kids ages seven and older. When it comes down to it, however, it’s all about what you think is appropriate for your child. If you think your toddler will enjoy and be able to handle the cartoon as much as older kids will, then it’s ultimately up to you to decide if the show is right for them.
The characters in Pinky Malinky don’t use foul language or look scary in a way that would frighten younger viewers. And the worst insult you will hear from one of Pinky’s junior high besties is something along the lines of "dingbat." And if you’re OK with your toddler hearing the word "wiener" repeatedly in the theme song in reference to Pinky being a living and breathing hotdog, then the show probably won't do any harm.
Pinky Malinky doesn't get offensive or scary in any specific way, but there are some jokes and scenarios that might fly over some younger viewers’ heads. Pinky is in junior high and most of the episode plots revolve around he and his friends trying to climb the social ladder. In one episode, Pinky works on getting one of his best friends in another classmate’s fashion blog to boost his popularity. In another episode, Pinky and one of his friends get terrible haircuts to help their friend feel better about his. There isn't much educational value in the show, but the overall tone is lighthearted and the title character means well. Mostly, Pinky Malinky is about getting a few genuine laughs from kids.
It definitely isn't under the same category as toddler favorites like Paw Patrol, but Pinky Malinky started off as a potential new show for Nickelodeon, so it was likely always meant to target older kids rather than toddlers. Before Netflix brought the show onto the streaming platform in January, it was supposed to premiere 20 episodes on Nickelodeon and make the network its home.
Pinky Malinky appeared on the network for the first time in 2016, but somewhere along the way, a deal was struck with Netflix to stream the show exclusively. In 2018, Deadline reported that this change was part of Viacom’s studio model strategy. The media giant, which oversees networks like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, initiated this plan in order to spread its content across all platforms rather than just TV.
According to Deadline, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish told investors, "We’re already mining our libraries of IP to create long-form episodic content that might not fit our linear brands today but could work for others."
Although Pinky Malinky couldn’t find a permanent home on network television, it looks like it is here to stay on Netflix. Since it dropped on Netflix in January, 59 13-minute episodes have been added. Although it’s more silly than anything, I would guess that kids a little younger than the suggested TV-Y7 rating could handle it. But if you’re looking for a new show to teach your toddler about something other than what a talking hotdog would be like, then Pinky Malinky isn't it.