By Arden Suvalle
Edited by Danika Suh
If you are currently a high school student or possibly in college, chances are that you grew up in the hands of Hannah Montana, Carly Shay, and several other Nickelodeon and Disney icons. Today’s kids are greeted with newer shows such as Bunk’d, Alexa & Katie, and The Babysitter’s Club. The question stands: how has children’s television changed?
At one point in time, much of children’s television was able to be watched by the older generation. A parent or an older sibling could sit down and watch a few episodes of iCarly with their child and enjoy it. Nowadays, it seems most kid’s shows are irritating to those who are not children themselves.
Personally, I remember my parents being quite fond of the shows I watched as a child, but once I was a bit older and my sister started watching more TV, none of us liked the shows she was watching.
Difference In Production Value
Today’s shows are clearly at a higher production value, using 4K filming equipment. The old shows we all know and love were usually filmed on a set of two-dimensional feel. We were given a room with three walls to look at, and we never knew what that fourth wall looked like. Sets in earlier shows more often than not were seen as flat, immobile places. Newer shows are not like that. In a new Netflix show intended for kids, Julie and The Phantoms, the camera work is beautiful and characters can be seen from all angles. Newer children’s shows often seem as if they could be a movie, except much much cheesier and shorter in length.
It’s often the style of acting in these children’s shows that make them so irritable. It almost seems as if the actors have “dumbed down” the acting so that it is more comprehensible for the kids watching the show. Characters in shows from the early 2000s were not exactly played by top-notch quality child actors, but at least they did not feel like the audience was being talked down upon. The characters felt less like characters and more like people in the early 2000s, a large contrast from today’s shows.
The pinnacle of what can make or break a children’s show is its humor. Many jokes from shows in the early to mid 2000s would not work today as they could be seen as offensive, and some are just blatantly offensive. Many shows today do not have jokes that resonate with an older audience, and a lot of parents may not understand the allusion to the previously trendy Fortnite dances or current TikTok references. Guest stars on old shows were usually something for parent’s to look forward to, such as seeing Larry David on an episode of Hannah Montana. Meanwhile, today’s kids are eager to see Charli D’Amelio show up on their screens.
For those interested, below I’ve linked the clip of Larry David on Hannah Montana, something that I found very amusing after rewatching the show recently.
It is evident that children’s shows have certainly changed over the years from the shifts in filming style, acting, and jokes. Children’s TV is definitely not what it used to be, and TV will most likely continue to evolve throughout our lifetime for better or worse.