Children’s Shows are Weird (Part II)

Writer’s Note: Rather than repeat the same exact explanation as last time, I’ll just assume you’ve read the first part of this. If you haven’t, I’ve included the link here.

Now that we’re all the same page, let’s keep the weirdness coming.


“Tumble Leaf.” Since this one is limited to people with Amazon Prime, I don’t expect most people to have seen it. Still, it’s generally pleasant to look at and has won a number of awards for excellent children’s programming. You know…for those of you who base their children’s programming choices on what the most out-of-touch grown-ups think about them.

The show involves the adventures of Fig the Fox as he discovers new treasures and adventures around every corner. The usual kid’s stuff. Basically, it’s a nice way of saying that he’s an orphan and everyone died in a giant naval disaster some years ago.

But let’s maybe take a few steps back here.

Fig lives on a ship that’s run aground with large sections of its hull missing. And while I might be able to take this as just an interesting set piece, it would also require me to ignore every other one of a dozen pieces of evidence. Not to mention, this column would end right here on a spectacularly unfulfilling anticlimax. So…no.

As far as main characters go, Fig is pretty much the same one you’ll find in every children’s show. He’s cheerful. He believes in the non-specific but often very helpful “power of friendship.” He’s optimistic almost to a fault. And he’s as dumb as a brick full of smaller, dumber bricks.

His catchphrase is literally, “Let me figure this out.” And he utters it over and over again as he tries to solve such mentally-taxing riddles as why a blue mask makes him invisible in blue flowers but not pink flowers, or how to use a megaphone. This lack of any common sense combined with his aforementioned lack of parents, it’s safe to assume that, well, he’s got no parents.

Then again, he’s in good company. Almost no one else in the show has any parents either. The closest we get is the aunt (or at least, “aunt”) of a supporting character. There’s also a pair of chickens with parents, though they’re young enough to have been born after whatever parent-killing disaster befell the rest of the adults there.

It’s possible that all these odds and ends have nothing to do with one another. Maybe all the parents died after eating bad salmon mousse. Maybe the pirate ship is just a random ship that has nothing to do with the plot. But I generally prefer my crazy theory walls to have more connected strings to the various newspaper clippings, as it were.

Given the low population but reasonable level of technological development, I think we can safely assume that something knocked this society down a peg. This is mirrored by the eerie number of ruins nearby – both of the “ancient civilization” kind and more recent “overgrown amusement park” variety. This suggests not only a disaster, but some sort of recurring one. In short, if you were thinking of offering insurance to the people of Tumble Leaf, you may want to reconsider.

There’s more evidence, of course. (What kind of cut-rate conspiracy article do you think I’m writing here?) And just like any good conspiracy theory, the best piece of evidence is crab-related.

It’s heavily implied that all the crabs were originally fishermen. I say “fishermen” because they’re all wearing the typical fisherman’s attire and kind of talk like less intelligible versions of Popeye. And I say “originally” because none of them are doing it anymore. The only boats we ever seen in the show are ones washed ashore and repurposed for other uses. And of the dozen or so crabs we see on the show, only one (known only as “The Captain”) hasn’t retreated far inland under fairly mysterious circumstances.

Tumbleleaf Captain.jpg

“I once caught a fish thiiiiiiiis big. Oh. And then…everyone died.”

The Captain lives in a small underground lair, subsisting on daily casts of a crab trap into the ocean. (I’m not even going to touch that one.) He’s got a wooden claw so severe that it won’t grow back, lending more credence to the whole “something bad happened” angle. And while I have no idea if he has any relation to the crashed ship he lives next to, it’s fairly clear that the local fishing industry ended up at the bottom of the same watery grave as ninety percent of the adults on the show.

“But wait!” I say, unnecessarily, because that’s not how reading works. “There’s more!”

I didn’t even mention what was in the crab traps everyday. Instead of finding food (i.e. crabs) inside, he finds…well, junk. The local shallows are littered with the scattered pieces of civilization. Springs, gears, toys and a wide variety of things that seem more at home in, well, houses than the cold uncaring depths of the ocean, get dredged up twice per episode.

From there, the theory pretty much writes itself. Which is handy, because my fingers are getting tired.

The safest bet is that some sort of natural disaster – very likely a severe hurricane – struck the coastline about a decade ago. In addition to destroying all local industry, it didn’t leave a single post standing of the coastline villages. I don’t want to overestimate the tragedy here, but given that the area has amusement parks and airship-level technology, I feel confident in saying it was definitely enough for the Jedi to notice.

The good news is that there were survivors. The bad news is that it’s probably going to happen again someday. Remember all those pesky ancient ruins I mentioned? Yeah. Judging from the number of abandoned sites scattered all over the area, it seems like the area lives in a constant cycle of growth and purging at the whims of a very grumpy Poseidon. It doesn’t bode well for Fig, especially if he plans on becoming an adult one day.

But…eh. He figured out that sleds go faster when he took his feet off the ground. I’m sure he’ll figure out how to save civilization, too.

“Yo Gabba Gabba!” Yo Gabba Gabba is brain poison. I tried watching it once and actually felt my neurons dying like tiny white-hot pin pricks behind my eyes and suddenly I didn’t remember long division. We shall speak of it no more.

Anyway, more to come in the next installment. I was thinking of going to three parts with this, but I may go to four. There really is no shortage of these weird shows.


2 thoughts on “Children’s Shows are Weird (Part II)

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