The Heatley CliffWhy ‘Sam and Cat' Could Be One of the Most Dangerous Shows On TVAmy Foster

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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  • Cathy Martinez

    I can’t believe this kind of mentality got some really good shows off air.I recall being in 2nd grade when my mom banned spongebob and the power rangers from my watchlist just because the local church had some fanatic catholic mom’s ranting about them being the “devil’s work” and a bad influence on kids.It’s an extremely ridiculous and over-the-top thing to do.Not every show in the world is going to be like dragon tales or Barney.At age 7 I would definitely have been bored out of my mind if it wasn’t for Invader Zim.Yes,this whole rant of mine is because parents took this really cool show off air.Why?Just because it was to dark.Dark?DARK?You don’t like it?Well then change the channel back to PBS kids or Nick jr and deal with it. >:(

  • Cathy Martinez

    I can’t believe this kind of mentality got some really good shows off air.I recall being in 2nd grade when my mom banned spongebob and the power rangers from my watchlist just because the local church had some fanatic catholic mom’s ranting about them being the “devil’s work” and a bad influence on kids.It’s an extremely ridiculous and over-the-top thing to do.Not every show in the world is going to be like dragon tales or Barney.At age 7 I would definitely have been bored out of my mind if it wasn’t for Invader Zim.Yes,this whole rant of mine is because parents took this really cool show off air.Why?Just because it was to dark.Dark?DARK?You don’t like it?Well then change the channel back to PBS kids or Nick jr and deal with it. >:(

    • Brazinger

      Yep, sadly people are dumb and oversensitive. Getting offended and overreact all the time.

  • Allen Irizarry

    You are not as helpless as you think in guiding your child. Talk to her about it, genuinely and honestly.

  • Janelle

    i completely agree. I am 15 and hate this show! Alot of people are saying that ‘it’s just a tv show’ but the age girls are watching this is the age they are also starting high school. An excess amount of girls dyed their hair red when i started high school, and being completely insecure in their first days of high they started acting like Sam and Cat, and still do. Believe it or not girls once again believe acting dumb and looking pretty is the secret to life, and being negative, rude and downright mean is acceptable.

  • Crunchy Mom

    How about option number 3, the middle way – or what I like to call “redirection,” where instead of letting your girls watch this bilgy anti-family programming, you make sure that during air time (conveniently forgetting to tevo it) you do something with them that’s even funner than watching some stupid tv show, anyway. Like play the spa game and paint each others’ nails, and even let them paint your nails and fix your hair. Be sure to let them pick, and remember that as silly as it might sound, or scary, or boring, it’s going to give them way better memories and patterned behavior to draw from later than what you obviously loathe enough to write an article about.

  • April Spitzer

    People who think that TV doesn’t negatively influence children, obviously have not had children who grew up in the era of the shows the author is discussing. Like the author, I have often felt stymied by whether or not to allow their continued presence in my home. When I first started noticing my kids’ preoccupation with these shows, I, like others, thought “Oh, they are harmless stupid shows. I had these kinds of shows when I was a kid.” Later, when I noticed that these shows are teaching that being stupid is cool, yelling is the norm, parents are non-existent and permissive, and meanness is funny…I began to worry. But I didn’t want to outlaw the shows because I worried that it would make them taboo and so much more desired. I didn’t want to give TV that kind of power. I didn’t know what to do, so like the author, I just hoped my kids were smart enough to notice. I often discussed what I saw these kids doing and hoped our discussions were taking root in my girls. Instead, the behavior of these characters became a part of their unconscious idea of what “real” teenage-hood should look like. They developed dissatisfaction when their own lives didn’t live up to this ideal. They were on a hunt for this overly hyped lifestyle and they never measured up. Now, as the mother of much older teens, I bitterly regret allowing these obnoxious influences into my home.

    • Brazinger

      Then something is wrong with them, mentally.

      TV really doesn’t influence children. I have children growing up with similar shows and so do quite a few of my friends and acquintances. None of them have had any of these problems, ever.
      Even a young 5-year-old knows, what is fiction and what is not.

  • Daniella Byrne

    I couldn’t agree more. My 8-year-old (I’m his nanny) started back talking and reflecting all of the behaviors enforced by “Sam” and even from reruns of Selena Gomez in “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Since I’m his nanny, it’s not my call to make him stop watching this show without the parents contradicting me. So, all I can do when he emulates Sam’s rude behavior is say, “There is a difference between TV world and the real world. In the real world its not ok or funny to be rude and mean. I am not mean or rude to you. I will not let you talk to me this way. I need a time out away from you until you can choose words and attitudes that are more respectful.” He changes his tune really quick and then we talk about it. We talk about the differences between TV world and actual life. That seems to work really well; but if he were my kid, there’s not way he’d watch this show. My own household doesn’t even have cable television, which is a very purposeful decision. That time can be better spent elsewhere making real friends and real relationships.

  • Becky

    I just don’t let my kids watch it.

  • Thomas

    Well this is a dumb article because shows like Sam and cat has absolutely nothing to do with kids acting out or anything like that they act out usually because their parents don’t teach them things like respect for elders and stuff like that so if you really think that this is the message it sends then look at yourself as a parent and ask yourself are you “a good parent” or not

  • Caitlin

    I grew up watching Boy Meets World, which was a great show about quirky kids and troubled kids learning that compassion and kindness are what will get you far in life. And their Reboot/spinoff of the show Girl Meets World is probably one of the best live-action kids shows still on TV. Its exactly like Boy Meets World in the way that rudeness and other mistakes are punished but used as learning opportunities, and there is a huge theme of family and true friends and, kindness and compassion will get you anywhere you want to go in life, which I think is a wonderful message for children. I think its suitable for young kids and is still entertaining for older audiences as well.

  • Rachel

    You can’t rely on a television show to teach your child morals, that’s not what it’s there for, it’s there for entertainment.

    • Cathy

      I agree it does come down to parents to teach morals. Do you think that by allowing your child to watch a show that goes against your morals almost says to the child we don’t do it at home, but it’s ok to watch it on tv? It is there for entertainment but why must the entertainment always feature these types of characters when it comes to the television shows for younger children? It leaves few options for parents who might want to enjoy a little down/relax time with the little ones since most shows do in fact have these types of characters.

  • Christopher Ferreira

    Laura I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • gafromca

    Simple: Cancel your cable service! We never got cable because I knew it would cause all of us watch too much TV. The best way to help kids do well in school is for the parents to cut back on their own television watching and let the kids see you reading books and magazines instead. Let TV be a weekend only treat, or give each child a “TV budget” for the week. Then help them fill their time with books, sports, music lessons, books, crafts, board games, friends and more books.

  • Tam

    A great show that teaches excellent moral values for young girls of any age is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This show teaches young girls to be kind, loyal, generous, true to their friends, to laugh and have fun (in positive ways), and honesty. This show allows young girls to understand the magic of friendship and being kind to others. This is a great show if you want to teach your kids moral values. This show is way better than anything on Nick or Disney. This show comes on the Discovery Family channel. I’m a 19 year old female (I don’t have any kids) but I love this show. It has taught me very valuable lessons in life, more so than any other television show I had growing up. The characters are ponies but they also teach diversity with the variety of ponies there are. There are Pegasus (flying) ponies, Earth (ground ponies with no powers or flight) Ponies, and Unicorn (magical) ponies. There are also the Alicorn (princess) ponies who are a mix of all three types. There are also a variety of other characters, Gryfons, Dragons, and other mystical creatures. These ponies have humanistic characteristics, are nonviolent, and deal with a wide variety of issues girls of any age can relate too. Young male children can even relate to the show. My nephew (5 years old) loves the show and it teaches him core values. This show teaches kids, and maybe even teenagers, excellent lessons in friendship. They address issues such as fitting in, bullying, and much much more. It is a truly fantastic show. They also have two movies where the ponies are humans in a human high school and they befriend the villain. Each episode has it’s very own lesson in friendship.

  • Keli Lindsey

    Watching a smart alec does not make a kid want to be one. You cannot blame the television; you must teach your child right and trust that they will know the difference between right and wrong. Sam and Cat is a stupid show but otherwise, harmless.

    I think watching other people, even fictional people, displaying different personalities will make children more confident to be themselves. Do you want your young children to be themselves, or do you want them to be polite little robots who agree with anything they’re told as long as it’s an elder telling them to do so? What happens when they don’t stand up for what’s right because they wouldn’t want to be “rude?” That’s when the line between right and wrong will become blurred, not when they’re watching a television show.

  • ingrid

    There was a TV show that showed kind kids. It was called Freaks and Geeks, and got canceled after one season.

  • willowspritew

    Here’s an idea. How about having a day where you and your daughter pick a few of your favorite TV shows (ones that you watched when you were her age) and just sit together and watch them. Then have an open discussion, what you liked and what you didn’t like, without bashing each other’s choices. Talk about whether it relates to real life or if it relates to today’s society (in cases of historical series), how the shows made you feel, how you see people being portrayed. You’ll get a better feel of whether it’s really affecting her negatively. She might like your choices and decide to watch them too.

  • Laura

    This article seems a little ridiculous. I thought we were past the point of attacking and blaming the media for negatively influencing our children. Obviously not. Maybe instead of switching the tv on and ranting about how its corrupting young minds, play and talk to your children. Thats all any kid wants, and they’ll emulate you instead of exagerated stereotypes. Also, you’ll do more damage than good underestimating the intelligence of of your own children.

    • Lizzie

      This seems a little rude and unfair. The writer never suggested she doesn’t spend time with her children talking to/playing with them, but pretty much all young children these days watch at least some TV.

      It seems totally reasonable that she is a little concerned about how this effects young girls growing up, because clearly media DOES effect us. That’s not to say it’s the only thing that does. Clearly good parenting and a strong family life goes a long way to counteracting negative effects from the media, but I think it’s naive to suggest that what we watch/listen to/see every day isn’t going to effect our behaviour.

      She seems to actually be giving a lot of credit to her 10 year old as she seems to be fairly confident that her child WILL grow out of this and realise this isn’t very nice behaviour. Seems she has a lot of confidence that her daughter is a kind and reflective human being.

      I honestly don’t know why you want to be so mean about someone bringing up what seems like a very legitimate worry from a loving and concerned parent.

  • Kathy Miceli-DiBona

    I agree with you completely , Sam Is one of the worst characters on TV for kids, teen or otherwise, she is rude, mean, obnoxious, greedy, selfish, and oh yes, has been arrested a few times and has been to juvenile detention, and seems to be proud of it. They never show these kids in school ,and the live on their own , you tell me what teenager can afford an apartment by being a babysitter, so as roles models for kids they stink. I agree if you don’t like the show change the channel, but those parents that think this type of show and characters do no harm , you are wrong, young girls are VERY impressionable , and look at older kids and wish to be like them, and they will mimic what they see and hear whether it is at school or on tv, and guess where some of the kids from school pick up their personality traits, peers, parents siblings friends and yes TV. Between honey freaking boo boo the stupid kardashians and every single reality show out there, you would hope a. Channel that is especially for kids would have a better selection of programs that our children can watch. So, all of you that replied to this article saying you don’t see what the problem is , by all means let your kids what this mindless crap, and by the way, have fun when your daughters get older, I am sure I will be able to spot them, they will be the obnoxious , hoochie mama dressed, bitter clerk, who hates her job and probably everyone, has no friends that are not like her , had sex way too early, is completely self absorbed who thinks the world owes her and will be rudely ringing up the things I am buying for my son , who is now in college. ENJOY

  • Enilda Elizabeth Pérez

    I grew up watching cartoons like “Hey, Arnold!” , “The Wild Thornberries” and “Ginger”, but I also watched “The Fresh Prince”, “Kenan and Kel”, “Drake and Josh”, “SpongeBob”, “Zoey 101″ (even after the Jamie Lynn Spears incident), “Degrassi” “Clarissa Explains It All”, “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”, “Renegade”, “Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Power Rangers”, “Skins” (I had just finished high school when I started watching this one, but bear with me) as well as every other movie made for adults, and I never picked up on any dirty jokes or felt like whatever was going on in the show was what actually happened in real life. I think kids will watch whatever they want if you don’t set some healthy boundaries (which my parents seldom did when it came to TV programming), but I don’t think a TV show will ruin your kid’s life. Everything else you teach them plays a role on how they behave, how they interact with people and, yes, how they take the things that happen in shows and in real life. The important thing here is to talk to your child about everything. You always have to be a step ahead of everyone else. Be wise and remember, respect is earned. If your kid respects your opinion and values the things you teach him or her, then you’re doing a good job. I don’t know if you believe in God, but look to Him for guidance if things get out of control. Blessings.

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