Saturday, 7 June 2014

Five reasons why 'Charlie and Lola' annoys me

For many years, long before Eleanor came on the scene, I'd heard a lot of praise for 'Charlie and Lola'. The premise of two siblings playing together (mostly) happily, the ever-attentive big brother, the strong female character - it seemed everyone loved it. And the first few times I saw it, I loved it too.

And Eleanor loved it. I mean really, REALLY loved it. Still does. In a 'watch-it-at-least-4-times-a-day-and-talk-about-it-non-stop-and-try-to-be-Lola' way. So, having seen it A LOT recently, I've started to notice some not-so-good points about it. Some little niggles which, with near-constant repetition either from the original source or through my daughter's imaginary play, have turned into major irritants.

So here are five of those irritants:

1. Charlie - Ahh, the lovely, attentive older brother. Or is he? Watch a few episodes and count how many times he says, "But Lola ..." He's not attentive, he's on a flipping power trip! Everything Lola wants to do, he's there pooh-poohing the idea and bossing her around. Every effort she makes, there he is, rolling his eyes and making rueful comments to his sidekick Marv. His opening gambit about Lola being, "small and very funny," is basically his way of saying, "I'm big, and very sensible." There should be a spin-off where Lola starts every episode saying, "I have this big brother Charlie. He is tall, and very patronising."

2. Lola - But don't think I'm on Lola's side either. Yes, it's great that we have a female co-lead in a children's TV show. But does she HAVE to be such a cliche of a little girl? Obsessed with pink to the point where she goes to her brother's monster party dressed as a pink rabbit, fills the party bags with pink jewellery and toys and covers up the decorations with pink ribbons. Complains about getting wet and cold when they set up camp in the garden. Yes, there is a shred of balance, particularly her interest in 'Bat Cat' which would normally would be seen as a boy's film, but still, does she have to be so very "girly"?

3. The friends - Marv is Charlie's friend. Lotta is Lola's friend. Morton is Marv's brother and occasionally comes along for the ride, but mostly, the girls talk to girls and the boys talk to boys. Lola is apparently the only girl at Charlie's birthday party. Now I don't have any primary school age children but when I was that age I'm pretty sure I played with both girls and boys. Yeah, yeah, Marv 'plays' with Lola in a 'humouring my mate's little sister' kind of a way, but I refer you to my previous comments about Charlie.

4. The parents - Seriously, where are they? They're referred to occasionally but never seen. Most responsibility seems to be delegated to Charlie (oh I bet he loves that, the little power fiend) and Lola was apparently charged with making sure Charlie had a nice birthday, presumably because the parents weren't around to make it nice. Is this actually a documentary on neglect and permissive parenting masquerading as a children's cartoon?

5. The music - not much to say here other than, flipping heck it's catchy. Gets stuck right in your head. I feel like my life is now accompanied with whimsical, plinky-plunky music.

In case you were reading this thinking I'm serious, don't worry, my tongue is so far in my cheek I look like a lopsided hamster. And really, it is a lovely little show. The first time you see an episode. But when that episode is replayed half a dozen times in one day, that's enough to drive anyone to distraction!!

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