The Heatley Cliff

Why ‘Sam and Cat' Could Be One of the Most Dangerous Shows On TV

I HATE the fact that my 10-year-old watches Sam and Cat.

I feel like if I forbid her, it will make the show taboo, amping up her desire to watch it. If I ignore it, my hope is that she will figure out on her own how ridiculous it is.  My 10-year-old is a middle child. Sweet tempered by nature, I am almost positive that her natural goodness and good sense will be able to offset the terrible-ness of this show. Fingers crossed.

I am not a fan of the live action Nick or Disney Shows, period. I think there is a lot wrong with them. Because I have a 15-year-old and a 10 year old, I’ve seen em all, and Sam and Cat is the worst. Personally, I say give me Spongebob any day.

HelloGiggles comes from a place of positivity and I appreciate that. I REALLY appreciate that. I think that these tweeny shows might have been part of the reason the founders started this website in the first place- to create a safe haven, if you will, from the other stuff that’s out there in the media. Kids are being exposed to hardcore ‘Mean girl’-ing in the guise of family friendly programming on TV. It becomes dangerous because the boys and girls that watch them think it’s okay to be rude to their friends, their family, their elders… But it’s not only okay, it’s funny.

Let’s start with Sam, brought back after her popular stint on iCarly. Never has there been a more loathsome, mean, narcissistic, selfish, offensive character on TV. Wait, I take that back. King Joffrey of Game Of Thrones, they’re about on par. Game of Thrones, however, is an adult show. Like I said, the danger of this character is not just that kids want to emulate her, but on a subconscious level, the baseline for what is acceptable behavior becomes skewed, especially when you combine this with every other wiseass on one of these Disney or Nick shows (they all seem to have a character like this). Suddenly, what is obviously something offensive and mean to say is not so obvious because the kids are watching these jerks get laughs on TV with no consequences at all for their cruelty. Nobody’s feelings are ever hurt.

I’m not sure what is worse, though: the spectacularly evil machinations of Sam or Cat’s seemingly total lack of intelligence. Cat is a walking talking barbie doll. There is a long tradition of the lovable dimwits on TV and film: Gilligan, Shaggy, Forrest Gump, The Nutty Professor, Prince Charming’s Dad in Cinderella, Homer Simpson, Phoebe from Friends, the guys from Dumb and Dumber, Adam Sandler in any movie he’s ever done…The dangerous aspect of Cat is that there is a sexiness which underlines everything- that somehow intelligence is not needed as long as you look and dress a certain way. Cat is meant to appeal to girls 7-11. This means that girls 7-11 are put in a position to admire, to emulate, a person so vacuous. Let’s not forget though that the premise of the show is that they are professional babysitters, with the kids often outwitting them (easy for Cat for obvious reasons, and perhaps less easy for Sam but she is rarely paying attention to them anyways). Yeah. Great Messaging.

Is this entertaining? I mean I get it, kids love jokes about poop. They are into smart alecs and goofiness. But, isn’t there a way of giving them this in a program that doesn’t assume that they are stupid or rude and can totally relate? What if we had a show on TV which showed people being kind and good and compassionate? What if the kids got out of these zany situations every week by being helpful, clever and empathic? Sam and Cat teaches on some level that if you’re in a bind, cheat, lie, manipulate, play dumb and bat your eyelids.

When I was a kid I watched The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie and Degrassi, which had its share of a-holes but felt realer. There was no laugh track. Middle school, really, is no laughing matter. I just worry what this generation of kids is going to think all of this is appropriate behavior. Clearly they are going to have learn the hard way. I also want to clarify that these actresses who play these roles, Jenette McCurdy and Ariana Grande, are talented young women. Certainly Ariana has quite a music career ahead of her. But it seems to me that they need to pull the emergency break on the train and get it to stop. Even better, they themselves would be great advocates for the creation of a show that operates on a more humanitarian level. Meanwhile, I will just pray that my 10-year-old outgrows Sam and Cat ASAP.

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