Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Hope This Doesn't Adversely Affect Their Geography Skills

The inevitable finally happened sometime in the past couple of weeks. I'm not even sure exactly when. One day its existence wasn't even acknowledged in our house, and now my kids can't get enough of it.

Sadly, I'm not talking about eating brussels sprouts or making their own beds, but the phenomenon that is Hannah Montana.

Taryn's completely obsessed. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Backyardigans and the like have been all but forgotten. Any TV time is now taken up by Hannah.

Zak says that he only likes the music (which sounds eerily like claiming to only get a certain publication for the articles), but he watches every time Taryn does and even sometimes when she doesn't. He'll even stop playing his video games to watch, which is pretty much unprecedented.

I met this turn of events with a little trepidation. I'd gotten comfortable with all the animated fare they typically watched, but I didn't really know much about the live-action shows Disney Channel has on in the evenings. They all seemed to be targeted at older kids, not my uncorrupted little babes. So I decided to watch a few episodes to make sure they were appropriate.

I'll have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The plots are simple and don't really dive into any controversial subject matter, at least not any of the ones I've seen so far. My only issue is that the characters sometimes say things to each other that we've taught our kids aren't nice, like "stupid" and "shut up." Taryn's always very quick to point out when someone says one of these "bad words."

Miley Cyrus doesn't seem like any amazing dramatic talent. Danelle commented that overacting must be appropriate at this age. Her singing doesn't seem all that great either, frankly. The tunes are catchy pop fluff that the kids seem to enjoy. She just has a harmless, comfortable charm to her. And as Danelle also pointed out, she wears clothes that actually cover her.

The show really doesn't seem like any sort of breakthrough at all. Just the latest variation on a theme that worked for The Brady Bunch, Saved By the Bell, Blossom, Lizzie McGuire and many others. Even though Miley and her friends are all in high school the show probably appeals more to younger kids who look up to them and feel older themselves for watching. And we parents can enjoy the show's innocence and reminisce about when we were younger and our biggest concerns were weighty issues like being grounded and bickering with our siblings. Brooke Shields playing Miley's deceased mother in flashbacks and references to things like Billy Ray Cyrus' (Miley's real-life father who also plays her father on the show) turn on Dancing With the Stars also resonate with adults without weighing down the show for the kids in classic Disney style. Sort of the Best of Both Worlds, as the show's theme song refers to.

My kids aren't old enough to care about Vanity Fair pictorials or tawdry stories about who Miss Cyrus is dating. If watching Hannah Montana is what they choose to do to feel more "grown up," I think we could do a lot worse.

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