I’ve never been one to sit and watch TV shows with my son. Sure, I check them out to make sure they’re age-appropriate and have overall messaging I can get behind, but you won’t often find me curling up on the couch with him just for the heck of it. His TV time is my get-stuff-done time.
Over the past couple of months, though, I found myself gravitating towards the living room if a couple of shows in particular were on. He’d notice me hovering and would invite me over, and before I knew it, we were watching an episode or two every morning together before school.
The first one, Angry Birds Toons (Netflix), is a series of shorts based on the mobile games. The second, The New Adventures of Figaro Pho (Netflix), is an Aussie-made animated show about a quirky guy who is afflicted with every type of phobia you can imagine.
It took me a few days to notice what these two shows had in common that was drawing me in: Neither had any actual dialogue. And that makes it my new favourite type of show for the following reasons:
1. The storytelling is on-point
It has to be, right? To tell a story completely visually with only the occasional grunt or sigh or shriek, to hold your attention and to keep you thoroughly entertained takes strong and smart storytelling. And, frankly, strong and smart storytelling can be a bit lacking in kids’ shows.
2. Kids see the importance of body language
Instead of simply listening to a character’s words, kids are forced to search for other clues about the plot; most of that comes by way of facial expression and body language. It’s a great tool for teaching them how we communicate just as much with our bodies as we do with our voices.
3. You can talk through the whole thing
My son likes to narrate what is happening in whatever he’s watching, he likes to point things out and expand on this or that. Which is fine except that no one else can concentrate on what’s being said on-screen. When we watch these shows, he can narrate to his heart’s content and I don’t have to fight the urge to shush him every three minutes.
4. No annoying character voices
There are certain shows that feature voices that can get on one’s nerves. (You all know exactly what I’m talking about.) Dialogue-free shows are also whine-free shows, and they have made the background noise in my home a little less grating.