Anyone who's raised a kid during the past two decades has probably seen at least one episode of Caillou, as the cartoon is nearing a 20-year run. Focused on 4-year-old Caillou, the show offers snippets of family life and offers a decidedly realistic portrayal of preschool behavior. But for some, it's too realistic. Should your kids watch Caillou? Many parents had mixed feelings about it.
Caillou is often dissected in the blogosphere, but BuzzFeed consolidated the major complaints against the show into a single article, "18 Reasons Why Parents Can't Stand Caillou." Parents' biggest concerns have to do with Caillou himself.
The title character is known for his impetuous behavior. He throws tantrums, sulks, is occasionally unkind to his little sister and is sometimes directly disrespectful of his mom and dad. One can argue that Caillou just behaves like a typical 4-year-old, but parents aren't thrilled when their kids see him as a role model. Reviews of Caillou on the Common Sense Media website reveal that Caillou's behavior tends to rub off on impressionable viewers.
One Common Sense Media parent, amandasdaddy, gave the show two stars:
Another reviewer, Karen1969, wrote that the lack of discipline from the parents compounds the show's ability to be a bad influence:
To some, the character is a a total nightmare. Good Housekeeping even compiled a list of tweets from parents who can't stand Caillou, some of the best being these gems:
Parents have gone so far as to actively prevent their children from watching the show: The blogger behind The Honest Toddler wrote a post on how to block Caillou on Netflix (either by going through customer service or by clicking "Not Interested"). But, despite the negative reviews, other parents have grown to appreciate Caillou. Blogger Mary Tyler Mom of Chicago Now offered a defense of Caillou, arguing that the vitriol directed at the show is unwarranted. She praised the familiarity of the plot lines (which can be as simple as playing with toys or shoveling snow), and expressed support for writers' willingness to let Caillou display his emotions. She also counters bloggers who write that there are no consequences for Caillou's actions:
Caillou isn't perfectly well-behaved, but he may still have something to offer kids who are just learning how to navigate the same situations he finds himself in on the show. Another defender of Caillou on the blog Five Uninterrupted Minutes honored Caillou's relatability:
Given the mixed feelings surrounding Caillou, it may be a good idea for parents to watch the show themselves before introducing their kids to it. Full episodes of Caillou are available for free on YouTube.